This story was written by Maj. Jonathon Daniell
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii – Medal of Honor recipient Spc. 5 Dwight W. Birdwell visited his former unit, 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, March 21-23, 2023, as the guest of honor for the Squadron’s Raider Week.
Birdwell served with the Raiders in 1968, and was awarded the Silver Star for his actions while deployed to Vietnam.
His commander, Army Gen. Glenn Otis, was unsatisfied with accolade and appealed the outcome for decades to upgrade the award to the nation’s highest honor.
Although Otis never got to witness his efforts come to fruition due to his death in 2013, Birdwell emphatically expressed it would’ve never materialized without his former commander’s unwavering persistence.
Nine years later on July 5, 2022, President Joe Biden presented Spc. 5 Dwight W. Birdwell the Medal of Honor.
Birdwell’s fist stop during his Schofield Barracks visit was to the squadron and brigade headquarters where his Medal of Honor citation was unveiled in the brigade’s hall of heroes.
During his speech to the troopers in attendance, he asserted he was just one of many.
“This honor is more for my unit, the men who served that day, the men who didn’t make it, I was just part of the group of many. And what I did, I did on behalf of the unit, on behalf of the United States Army, and the government of the United States of America.”
When the 3-4 CAV Commander Lt. Col. Josh Suthoff addressed the gathering during the unveiling ceremony, he spoke at length on Birdwell’s character and how his actions as a soldier go far beyond the uniform.
“What makes Spc. Birdwell’s story so powerful, is Dwight’s story is an American story, a human story,” said Suthoff. “How war changes you, but does not have to break you. As the Army continues to define be all you can be, they need to look no further than Spc. 5 Birdwell’s story.”
When the ceremony concluded and the crowd began to disperse, a group of soldiers lingered around Birdwell and waited their turn to shake the hand of a true American hero.
True to form, Birdwell obliged and cheerfully offered every soldier his undivided attention.
The next day, Birdwell returned to the squadron headquarters to address the 3-4 CAV troopers on his Army experience before the squadron dedicated their heritage room in his name.
Birdwell’s citation now hangs outside the entry into the room to serve as a tangible reminder of the rich lineage of Raiders past.
For one Trooper in attendance, Birdwell’s visit was beyond a memorable one.
“Over the past week I’ve been fortunate to serve as Spc. 5 Birdwell’s escort and it’s been an absolute honor to spend time with him and his family,” said 1st Lt. Sal Barranco, assistant S2, 3-4 CAV. “I have been in awe of Spc. 5 Birdwell’s every-day emphasis on selfless service and his humble outlook on the extraordinary accomplishments he has achieved during the course of his life.”
On the final day of Birdwell’s visit, he watched the squadron complete the culminating physical training event of Raider Week, a grueling 5k jungle trek followed by an unforgiving obstacle course.
As Birdwell observed the troopers navigate the rugged terrain, he was impressed with the training and their warrior spirit.
Later that afternoon, the squadron gathered to present Birdwell with the Order of St. George medallion, a symbolic token to honor those that contribute to the Army’s calvary and armor service.
For Birdwell’s final act of Raider Week, he inscribed his name as the first entry into 3-4 Cavalry’s roll book. The keeping of a historical muster is a customary deed within the Army’s mounted force.
Each trooper that leaves the squadron in good standing may get the opportunity to record their signature into the fold, forever weaving their name into the same breath as Medal of Honor recipient Spc. 5 Dwight W. Birdwell.
Birdwell was accompanied by his daughter, Stephanie Birdwell, his son-in-law, Spike Bighorn, and their children, Willow and Raven Bighorn during their trip.
As a natural orator Birdwell shared countless memorable stories over the course of the week, but it was a simple quote during his initial address that truly captures his spirit.
“The one lesson I’d like to say that I found about life, you rarely get a second chance to do the right thing the first time. Always strive to do the right thing.”