Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army
Company C, 2d Battalion, 503d Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade,
Date of Action: August 23, 1968


The Distinguished Service Cross is presented to Billy W. Ponder, Sr., Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam, while serving with Company C, 2d Battalion, 503d Infantry, 173d Airborne Brigade. Staff Sergeant Ponder distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions on 23 August 1968 while on an ambush mission in Binh Dinh Province. He was standing guard by four sleeping fellow soldiers near two buildings suspected of being used by the Viet Cong. Shortly after midnight he saw an enemy soldier rise from a rice paddy dike twenty-five meters to his front and immediately fired at the aggressor. Suddenly a grenade landed amid his four awakening comrades. With complete disregard for his own life, Sergeant Ponder yelled a warning to the men and jumped on the deadly missile to shield them from the blast. Some seconds later, when the grenade failed to detonate, he took it from under his stomach and threw it toward the enemy's position, where it finally exploded. Staff Sergeant Ponder's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.

HQ US Army, Vietnam, General Orders No. 5424 (November 25, 1968)




DSC Awardees