This week’s America250 salute is Army Veteran Nicky D. Bacon.
Nicky D. Bacon was born in 1945 in Caraway, Craighead County, Arkansas, as one of eight children. In 1951, Bacon’s family moved to Arizona due to financial struggles. Bacon dropped out of high school after ninth grade to work and provide additional income for his family. However, his uncle’s tales of World War II inspired Bacon to seek adventure. Despite being 17 years old, Bacon enlisted in the Army in 1963 and overcame the age requirement by forging his mother’s signature. He started his military career with the Arizona National Guard and completed basic training at Fort Ord, California, before going on active duty in 1964. Prior to Vietnam, Bacon was in the 8th Infantry Division, stationed in Germany.
From 1966 to 1967, Bacon served his first tour of Vietnam. Prior to joining the Army, Bacon did not know where Vietnam was even located on the globe or how it small it was compared to the other countries near it. After completing this tour, Bacon traveled to Hawaii to instruct soldiers preparing for deployment to Vietnam. By this time, Bacon was a staff sergeant. He did not have to return to Vietnam, but he signed up for a second tour and became the squad leader for the men he trained.
On Aug. 26, 1968, Bacon and his company, Company B, 4th Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, were returning to their base after a month of intense jungle combat. They anticipated a recuperation period. Instead, they boarded helicopters to assist their fellow comrades of the First Cavalry Division, who were under assault by North Vietnamese near Tam Ky, South Vietnam.
Upon their arrival, a North Vietnamese regiment hidden in the nearby hillside bombarded the American cavalry division with torrents of machine-gunfire and grenades. Bacon and his men commenced their assault and rescue, with Bacon using grenades to destroy an enemy bunker. It had only been a couple minutes since the encounter began, but the platoon commander and several others were wounded by the enemy assault.
Bacon assumed command of his platoon. Bacon rallied his men and evacuated the wounded officer, along with other soldiers, to an armored personnel carrier for safety. He then returned to the battlefield, destroying the machine gun that injured his fellow comrades. Bacon took charge of another platoon when their commander was wounded. He killed four Vietnamese soldiers and destroyed an anti-tank weapon, allowing the armored reinforcements to move forward and turn the tide of battle. Bacon climbed the nearest tank, directing fire on enemy forces as the wounded were being evacuated.
Bacon received a Distinguished Service Cross and later a Medal of Honor by President Richard Nixon on Nov. 24, 1969. He would retire as a first sergeant after 21 years with the Army. After military life, Bacon became director of the Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs in April 1993.
Bacon passed away on July 17, 2010.
We honor his service.
VA is highlighting 250 Veterans leading up to July 4, 2026, which marks 250 years of independence. Learn more about the count down to 250 years of the American spirit at https://america250.org/.
Writer: Alex Boucher
Editor: Julia Pack, Merrit Pope
Fact Checker: Yuki Harry
Graphic Designer: Katie Rahill