On Jan. 6, 1968, retired Army Maj. Gen. Pat Brady was a helicopter pilot with the 54th Medical Detachment in Vietnam
On that day, he carried out a series of daring flights in three separate helicopters to rescue 51 wounded soldiers, many of whom would have died without immediate medical treatment.
For the courage he displayed, Brady received the Medal of Honor, considered the nation’s highest award for valor in combat.
Now, Brady, 82, of San Antonio, hopes the long wait for a new National Medal of Honor Museum is nearing an end.
The museum’s foundation named Arlington and Denver as finalists Wednesday for a new site. The museum is now at the USS Yorktown in Mount Pleasant, S.C. A decision is expected in September.
“I want to get this damn thing done before I die,” said Brady, a member of the foundation board.
Dating to the Civil War, 3,522 medal of honors have been awarded.
Just this week, President Donald Trump draped the award on Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia, who became the first living Iraq war veteran to receive the medal.
In its proposal, Arlington would place the museum in the entertainment district near Globe Life Park and AT&T Stadium, on vacant land or parking lots on city-owned property under the control of the Texas Rangers. The city’s propensity for building new attractions such as Globe Life Field, Texas Live! and the Live by Loew’s Hotel inspire confidence the museum project will get completed, said Joe Daniels, CEO of the National Medal of Honor Museum.
“They did a tremendous job of demonstrating why it would be the perfect place for this museum,” said Daniels, the former CEO and president of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.
The financial support of the community will be key. Once the site is selected, organizers will need to raise $150 million for a 150,000 square-foot building.
“It’s a substantial number but for a national cause like this, this is doable,” Daniels said. “One thing that really distinguishes Texas is there is plenty of corporate support.”
The fact that 14 million tourists visit Arlington annually doesn’t hurt either.
“We want to measure our visitation in the millions,” Daniels said.
Arlington sold the museum on its ability to get big projects done quickly, said Bruce Payne, Arlington’s economic development director.
Payne said the fundraising effort would extend beyond Arlington.
“I think this would be a regional effort given the nature of this museum,” Payne said.
At an event hosted at Globe Life Park, local officials visited with the museum’s site committee. Guests included Dallas Cowboys legend Roger Staubach.
Building a new generation of heroes
Brady would love to see the museum in Texas but said he’ll vote for what’s best for the museum’s future.
The focus of the museum won’t just be on the wartime events where the recipients earned their medals, Brady said.
Instead, the goal is to inspire the next generation to be patriotic and show courage in their everyday lives.
“We don’t care about personal honors,” Brady said. “We care about building a museum that educates and inspires the young people in this country to become patriots, to realize they can become heroes and they don’t have to go to war to do it.”