Almost Yesterday: Dexter Native Ken Sisler Receives Congressional Medal of Honor

Aug 11, 2020

It seems like Almost Yesterday that Ken Sisler of Dexter, Mo., received our nation’s highest award for valor: the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Lieutenant Sisler was born in Dexter Sept. 19, 1937, graduated from Dexter High School in 1955, attended Arkansas State University, spent five years in the Air Force, and then returned to Arkansas State where he graduated in 1964.

In 1963, he won the National Collegiate Skydiving Championship while competing with his leg in a cast.

In 1965, Sisler returned to the military, became an officer, graduated from Airborne and Ranger Schools, and was commissioned as a military intelligence officer. In June of 1966, Sisler was in South Vietnam and serving as the leader of a special operations group conducting reconnaissance missions deep into enemy territory.

On one of these missions in February of 1967, Sisler’s small team was moving through the thick Vietnamese jungle when they were attacked from three sides by a large enemy force. He quickly deployed his men, called for air strikes, and moved among his troops to encourage and direct their efforts.

Learning that there were two wounded who were unable to pull back, Sisler charged through intense enemy fire, reached them, placed one on his back, and ran for safety. But he came under heavy fire. He put his comrade down, killed three onrushing enemy soldiers, and destroyed a machine gun emplacement with a grenade.

As he returned to the wounded man, the left flank of his position came under a broad assault, resulting in more casualties. To prevent his unit from being completely over run, Sisler grabbed a handful of grenades and charged directly into the enemy, firing and throwing grenades.

This bold action forced the enemy to withdraw, thus saving the lives of his men.

For his extraordinary leadership, courage, and selfless concern for his men, First Lieutenant Ken Sisler received the nation’s highest military recognition – the Congressional Medal of Honor.