Despite the bullets whizzing by all around him and mortars falling within shouting distance, PFC Ted Dennis Britt continued to lead his fire team toward the enemy around Khe Sanh Combat Base on March 30, 1968 in the Republic of Vietnam.
The Southweat Dekalb High graduate of Company B, First Battalion, 26th Marines, Third Marine Division and his team were engulfed by heavy machine gun fire from the well-entrenched Viatnamense army force ahead of him on that fateful day. Britt needed to get himself and his buddies out of danger at any cost.
He did so by going through the fortified trench-line and reorganizing an attack squad, in the process leaving his covered position to assault an automatic weapons emplacement. Upon reaching the emplacement he unloaded an assault on his own, killing four enemy soldiers and stopping them from shooting at his fellow marines any further.
However, while advancing on another attack on that day in 1968, Britt was fatally wounded as his mates marched on.
While he was posthumously awarded the Silver Star and a purple heart, Britt did not have any kind of memorial in mind while making the battlefield a little safer for his squad. None of those who serve or fall in the line of duty think of days such as Memorial Day or the ones similar to that which took place at the Walk of Heroes Veterans War Memorial on Thursday.
Britt had a memorial dedicated to his honor in front of hundreds of spectators, dignitaries and veterans, where his mother was there for the unveiling of a plaque and presented with a flag.
The Marine Band out of Albany was present to play the Star Spangled Banner at the open, followed by a bagpiper, and the ringing of six bells before a C-130 flew over to start the ceremony.
Rockdale County Chairman and CEO Richard Oden spoke of the Walk of Heroes and a member of the Atlanta Vietnam Veterans Business Administration introduced the distinguished speakers.
First among them was the fourth man given the Medal of Honor during the Vietnam conflict, Col. (Retired) Harvey ‘Barney' Barnum of the USMC.
Barnum told the crowd of the importance of men like Britt who would stand up and fight for the freedoms of America
"Any time we stop and pause and honor somebody who has given their life to the country makes the country stronger, and makes people realize freedom isn't free.
And that there are those that made the ultimate sacrifice so that we can remain in peace and security," Col. Barnum said. "If we don't stop and do that from time to time then we don't understand what this country is all about."
He ended his speech to the hundred-or-so veterans in the audience, and their families, saying that "You've got to have a strong country made up of strong Americans to remain a free America."
Two members of Britt's platoon then spoke of the actions taken by the marines during the battle of Khe Sanh.
Bill Jayne went over the horrors of the day with machine gun fire raining down, but when asked if people who weren't there could understand what he and soldiers like Britt went through, Jayne stated simply, "No way. Thank God."
Jayne said that Britt did more than just fight for his marines in 1968 but also provided an example for Americans to follow for years to come.
"The example of young men like Ted, this example has stayed with all of us who have served, certainly in Bravo Company at Khe Sanh," Jayne said. "I think it should be an example to everybody in the country. This is what military service is all about."
Peter Weiss also discussed knowing Britt from his Marine Platoon, reminding the crowd of the ultimate sacrifice. Winter Taylor then played "Amazing Grace" on the bagpipes and Hamilton Henson, President of the AVVBA unveiled Britt's memorial to his mother Joyce Britt as a UH-1 flew over in salute of PFC Britt.
The flag was presented and a flight of smoke planes flew over in celebration as each branch of the service was recognized in song by the Albany Marine Band to end the ceremony.
While the memorial ended Jayne said that the sacrifice and responsibility to the country should not.
"Too many people have some sort of ill-advised, misguided view of the military that perhaps comes from entertainment industry and things like that," Jayne said. "What it's ultimately about, is it's at the core of our responsibility as citizens having a free self-governing country."