MARINE CORPS FORCES, CENTRAL COMMAND -- Tara Cady, a contractor who works in Web development here, was commended on her efforts to properly honor her father, a Marine Vietnam War veteran who would rather accept all that life had to offer rather than succumb to a life filled with misery.
Upon researching her father’s military records and finding out that he was indeed a genuine hero, she was further inspired to pay tribute to him for his selfless sacrifices and acts of heroism in combat.
As Marines became aware of the situation, they encouraged her to invite her father, William Bradford Cady, to attend the Marine Corps birthday ball – a time when Marines pause to reflect on their illustrious legacy as well as honor the sacrifices of wounded and fallen comrades.
Since her father had never attended the traditional celebration, it was deemed the most fitting and appropriate place to honor the Marine veteran.
Consequently, a special ceremony was hosted in honor of Cady who was critically wounded on Feb. 23, 1969, by shrapnel from explosive devices thrown in his direction as he fought against the enemy in the Quang Nam Province. His combat injuries resulted in amputations on both of his lower legs, loss of vision in his right eye, and bilateral hearing loss.
During the ceremony, Brig. Gen. Anthony Jackson, deputy commander, paid his respects to the Marine veteran in honor of the devotion to duty and faithful service he displayed. The general also took this opportunity to present Cady with the shadow box his daughter had prepared for him, which allowed him to properly display the medals he had earned following his tour of duty in Vietnam.
The shadow box was filled with the military decorations Cady had earned before he was medically retired in 1969, including a few more awards his daughter was made aware of during her research. A subsequent review of her father’s military record book by the National Personnel Records Center indicated Cpl. Cady’s honorable service had earned additional awards which had not been identified on his discharge papers.
“Here’s a guy who volunteered to join the Marines right out of high school; a guy who fought for his country in Vietnam following the Tet Offensive; a guy who spent nearly 30 years of his life helping other veterans; and a guy who was awarded the Bronze Star with valor,” said Col. Tim Cole, G-4 operations officer.
“This alone speaks volume of his character. The Marine Corps doesn’t give out Bronze Stars with valor to just anyone,” Cole exclaimed.
On Aug. 29, 1968, Cady set off on his journey to become one of “The Few and The Proud,” volunteering to enlist into the Marine Corps at the age of 19. Like so many other young Americans who stepped up to answer their nation’s call to arms during the Vietnam era, a bright-eyed and fearless Cady was eager to serve his country.
After graduating “Boot Camp” at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., and successfully completing his infantry training at Camp Lejeune, N.C., the Jamestown, N.Y., native then deployed to Vietnam where he served as a rifleman assigned to A Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division. He was injured a week later.
Following his tour of duty in Vietnam, Cady was cited for outstanding service in combat. His participation in various small unit operations earned him the Bronze Star Medal with Combat V, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnamese Service Medal w/two stars, Vietnamese Campaign Medal w/device, and Purple Heart Medal.
According to Tara, her father wanted nothing more out of life at the time than to be a U.S. Marine. It was truly devastating for him to learn that his injuries prevented him from continuing his military service. But, after being wounded in Vietnam and spending 10 months in a veterans’ hospital, she said her father was basically handed his discharge papers and told that he could now go home.
Upon making a full recovery, Cady began working as a National Service Officer for the Disabled American Veterans – a nonprofit organization that provides support for veterans disabled during times of war or armed conflict. As an NSO, he dedicated himself to working with veterans and their families to obtain benefits from the Department of Veteran Affairs.
“My dad signed up voluntarily right out of high school, and from what I’ve learned, he had a promising career ahead of him. He was selected to go to Quantico to serve with the presidential helicopter support squadron, HMX-1 (Marine Helicopter Squadron-1), and was looking forward to going there after he finished his tour in Vietnam,” said Tara, explaining her reasons for wanting to honor her father. “He had his heart set on being a career Marine. So, I felt it was only right and just to set his record straight, and recognize him for his valiant service and the awards he earned more than 35 years ago.”
In her younger years, Tara recalled her father being tight-lipped about the time he spent in Vietnam. It was just something he didn’t care to talk about much. However, as the years passed, her desire to learn more about her father’s life-altering experiences grew stronger.
Upon talking to some of his family members, contacting various veteran organizations and making several phone calls to the historical branch of Headquarters Marine Corps, Tara was able to learn more about her father’s military service. Ironically, in her current position, she finds herself surrounded by Marines who were all eager to assist in her quest for knowledge.
“Tara has put a lot of time, effort and money into seeing to it that her father was properly honored by the Marine Corps. I believe she had some idea of what he experienced in Vietnam, but it wasn’t until now, and only after spending countless hours researching his background, that she would come to understand his true character, or how his valorous actions impacted his fellow Marines,” Cole explained.
“But now, as she works with today’s Marines, she has gained the ability to see and understand, through a Marine’s perspective, how much her father’s service meant to the Marine Corps.”
Although Cady only served in the Marines for a short period of time, Tara knew her father had made a significant contribution to his country. After all, his medals and award citations paint a vivid picture. But little did she know that these accolades would turn out to be the prelude to a story that had remained untold – until now.