Gary B Beikirch joined the United States Army in August 1967, just after finishing his second year of college in upstate New York. He was interested in becoming a Green Beret from the very beginning.
He completed basic training at Fort Dix, New Jersey, and then went on to Fort Benning, Georgia, for jump school. He completed jump school, passed the Special Forces test and went on to training at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
After finishing phase one special forces training, he completed training to become a combat medic. During his time in the army, Beikirch served with the 3rd, 5th and 10th Special Forces Groups as a Light Weapons and Medical Specialist. He was sent to Vietnam in July 1969.
While serving as a sergeant with Company B of the 5th Special Forces Group, 1st Special Forces, Beikirch was stationed at Dak Seang Camp, home to Montagnard villagers and fighters, in the Central Highlands province of Kon Tum.
On April 1, 1970, the camp was attacked by a numerically superior North Vietnamese force. While his Montagnard assistants treated the wounded, Beikirch fought back with a 4.2 inch mortar and, after that weapon was disabled by hostile fire, a machine gun.
Learning that a fellow American soldier was wounded and lying in an exposed position, he ran through heavy fire to rescue the man. He was hit by shrapnel in the process, including one fragment which struck near his spine and partially paralyzed him.
For the remainder of the battle he had his Montagnard assistants carry him from one position to another as he treated the injured. He was wounded in the side while giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to a Montagnard fighter and was then shot in the stomach.
Despite this, he continued to provide medical care and fire his weapon from his stretcher until losing consciousness. He was evacuated by helicopter and spent six months recovering at Valley Forge Medical Center.
For his actions at Dak Seang, Beikirch was awarded the Medal of Honor. The medal was formally presented to him on October 15, 1973.