This Is Why We Stand: Private Dirk J. Vlug's Medal of Honor
Country is the expression of ideas and values that exist for the greater good of mankind. We know this because of the unfathomable risks the bravest among us have taken to preserve our country. Dirk Vlug is one of the many who took those risks.
Private Dirk J. Vlug served in the 126th Infantry Regiment of the United States Army during World War II. On December 15, 1944, Vlug single handedly destroyed a group of five heavily armed Japanese tanks in the Philippine province of Leyte. Vlug was issued the Medal of Honor for his unparalleled bravery. A small excerpt from his Medal of Honor Citation states, "Loading single-handedly, he destroyed the first tank, killing its occupants with a single round. As the crew of the second tank started to dismount and attack him, he killed 1 of the foe with his pistol, forcing the survivors to return to their vehicle, which he then destroyed with a second round. Three more hostile tanks moved up the road, so he flanked the first and eliminated it, and then, despite a hail of enemy fire, pressed forward again to destroy another".
It would have been easy for Vlug to retreat when the roadblock he was guarding came under attack. He didn't. As the only line of defense, Vlug never faltered. Americans don't know the meaning of the word retreat. This isn't out of brashness or ego, but instead is a result of the mental fortitude we are built upon. What we aim to defend is invaluable, therefore retreat is an impossibility. This is a reality that was well understood by Private Vlug. We stand for the reality that is our nation and for those who defended the very fabric of that reality.