The 35th Infantry Regiment Association salutes our fallen brother, 1LT Stephen Edward Karopczyc, who died in the service of his country on March 12th, 1967 in Kontum Province, Vietnam. The cause of death was listed as Small Arms/WA. At the time of his death Stephen was 23 years of age. He was from Bethpage, New York. Stephen is honored on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Panel 16E, Line 69.
The decorations earned by 1LT Stephen Edward Karopczyc include: the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Parachute Badge, the Medal of Honor, the Purple Heart, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, the Vietnam Campaign Medal and the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm Unit Citation.
Medal of Honor
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. While leading the 3rd Platoon, Company A on a flanking maneuver against a superior enemy force, 1LT Karopczyc observed that his lead element was engaged with a small enemy unit along his route. Aware of the importance of quickly pushing through to the main enemy force in order to provide relief for a hard pressed friendly platoon, he dashed through the intense fire into the open and hurled colored smoke grenades to designate the foe for attack helicopter gunships. He moved among his men to embolden their advance, and he guided their attack by marking enemy locations with bursts of fire from his own weapon. His forceful leadership quickened the advance, forced the enemy to retreat, and allowed his unit to close with the main hostile force. Continuing the deployment of his platoon, he constantly exposed himself as he ran from man to man to give encouragement and to direct their efforts. A shot from an enemy sniper struck him above the heart but he refused aid for this serious injury, plugging the bleeding wound with his finger until it could be properly dressed. As the enemy strength mounted, he ordered his men to organize a defensive position in and around some abandoned bunkers where he conducted a defense against the increasingly strong enemy attacks. After several hours, a North Vietnamese soldier hurled a hand grenade to within a few feet of 1LT Karopczyc and two other men. Although his position protected him, he leaped up to cover the deadly grenade with a steel helmet. It exploded to drive fragments into 1LT Karopczyc's legs but his action prevented further injury to the two wounded men. Severely weakened by his multiple wounds, he continued to direct the actions of his men until he succumbed two hours later. 1LT Karopczyc's heroic leadership, unyielding perseverance, and selfless devotion to his men were directly responsible for the successful and spirited action of his platoon throughout the battle and are in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Army.
Stephen is buried in the Long Island National Cemetery in Farmingdale, NY (Long Island).