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As lieutenant in Korea, Richard Cavazos earned the silver star when his company was attacked by a numerically superior force, emerging from the battle victorious. Seven months later he would earn the Distinguished Service Cross during a raid on entrenched enemy positions. Under heavy barrage, he withdrew his men and regrouped, pushing through the heavy fire three times to meet with and destroy the enemy and their equipment. Upon locating a group of wounded soldiers, he evacuated them one at a time, then scoured the location for more casualties and confused troops still in the area. Only allowing his own wounds from the battle to be tended after he was certain the hill was clear of friendlies.
Fourteen years later he would earn a second Distinguished Service Cross. This time in Vietnam as a Lieutenant Colonel while on a search and destroy operation near Loc Ninh when his battalion came upon a well entrenched Viet Cong force. He directed his companies in an aggressive counterattack that pushed the enemy force out of their fortifications. Cavazos called for air strikes and artillery on the crest and forward slope of the hill, cutting off their retreat until he was able to personally lead an assault on the enemy positions. When the enemy fled, he then directed further artillery strikes on the hill top, destroying them as they ran.
He would go on to be the first Hispanic four star general in the US Army.