Local Vietnam Veteran Receives Honor

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A local Vietnam veteran is finally honored for his heroic actions more than 42 years later. In those four decades he was never officially recognized for his sacrifice.

Retired Major General Lou Hennies said, “I won’t say that things got lost but the fact is that it kind of just got buried. It was in the record officially but it was never presented.”

But, on Thursday his wait was over. Grafton received the Distinguished Flying Cross Award.

When an airborne brigade came under fire in Vietnam in 1971, medical evacuation was necessary. A swarm of enemy activity made it nearly impossible to reach the wounded. Grafton was part of another helicopter company and volunteered to help.

Hennies said, “Butch continued the mission after he took care of the guy and continued the mission. And he brought himself and the rest of the crewmembers unscathed and with an aircraft full of a lot of holes.”

Mr. Grafton said American soldiers don’t plan to be heroes. They simply do what they are trained.

Grafton said, “That award doesn’t just belong to me. It belongs to every one of the pilots that trained me here at Ft. Rucker…I had the skills. I had the background to do the job and the job just did itself automatically.”

A lesson he has passed on for 33 years to his student aviators at Ft. Rucker.

Grafton said, “Learn the aircraft, trust your instincts and it will generally work out for you.”

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