Calvin Bouknight

MONDAY, MAY 20, 2024 

Calvin Bouknight, Washingtonian,

McKinley Tech Graduate, Class of 1959

and American soldier, was awarded the Silver

Star posthumously for his actions at the Battle of

Ia Drang Valley, November 14, 1965.

He lost his life after saving the lives of four other soldiers.


  • Calvin Bouknight

    June 23, 1941 – November 16, 1965

    Specialist 5 Calvin Bouknight, a Washington DC native, graduate of

    McKinley Tech High School class of 1959, was a medic for the 1st Cavalry

    Division, and a conscientious objector. On November 14, 1965, his unit

    landed in an area about the size of a football field and a half. The Battle of

    the IA Drang Valley would be the United States' first major offensive of the

    Vietnam War. Calvin’s job was to stay near 2Lt. Dennis Deal until needed,

    which would prove to be sooner than expected.

    The attack began in the early afternoon. The cacophonous sound of the

    battle was horrendous. 2Lt. Deal imagined the sound being akin to 1,000

    rounds a second. Radios were immediately tied up with situation reports.

    His unit began to take casualties. The men were faced down in the grass.

    While assessing the situation 2Lt. Deal literally felt “boots up my back.”. It

    was Calvin. During the ferocious firefight, Calvin rushed out to attend to the

    wounded soldiers. He shielded them with his body as he attended to them.

    After about five minutes of heroism, Calvin was hit in the back between the

    shoulders. During a lull in the battle two soldiers brought him off the field.

    He talked about the intense pain, and that he was not able to feel his legs.

    His wound proved to be mortal. He tried to save the lives of four soldiers at

    the expense of his own.

    Specialist 5 Bouknight was mentioned in LTG Hal Moore’s book “We Were

    Soldiers Once and Young.” Calvin was buried in Section 38-240 at Arlington

    National Cemetery. Five months later in April 1966, he was awarded the

    Silver Star posthumously.

    Until recently his Silver Star award was not on his headstone, but because of

    the efforts of the staff at Arlington National Cemetery, he has received a

    new headstone with his Silver Star award inscribed.

  • Program


    Presentation of Colors

    McKinley Tech High School JROTC, MAJ Monica Martinez, Cmdr., SFC

    Scheddrick Womack, Instructor

    National Anthem

    Daphne Dunston Wharton, McKinley Class of 1981

    Pledge of Allegiance


    LTC (R) Chaplain Grace R. Hollis USA, McKinley class of 1979


    COL (R) Charles Alexander, Superintendent, Arlington National Cemetery


    “Garry Owen” SFC (R) Donald Francisco, USA, Old Guard Fife and


    Introduction of Keynote

    John W. McCaskill, M.A. McKinley Class of 1981


    BG Yolanda “YR” Summons, Director for Policy and Force Integration,


    Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, G-3/5/7, USAMEDCOM

    Wreath Laying

    Dr. Reynard Bouknight, Dr. Joyce Bouknight-Gant, Ms. Katrina

    Bouknight, led by SFC Donald Francisco


    Thomas M. Sneeringer, Bugles Across America


    Jan Scruggs, Vietnam Veteran, Founder of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial

    Final Remarks

    John W. McCaskill, M.A.


    LTC (R) Chaplain Grace R. Hollis

    Retirement of Colors

    McKinley Tech High School JROT