The Department of Veterans Affairs’ Floyd Lindstrom Clinic overflowed Saturday with current and former service members as a Medal of Honor dedicated to the clinic’s namesake was delivered to the hospital.
“I’m proud to have the medal displayed here so that the veterans that come through here know the history of the man that this clinic is named after,” said Duane Gill, the deputy director of the VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System. “It gives me chills being here.”
Lindstrom, known as the “one-man army,” was awarded the nation’s highest medal for bravery during World War II for charging a German machine gun nest on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, 1943, in southern Italy. Three months later, he died at Anzio, an ill-fated amphibious landing that eventually led to the capture of Rome.
While others from the city have earned the award, Lindstrom is the only one who grew up in Colorado Springs. Lindstrom had been awarded the Silver Star for valor in North Africa and had been offered noncombat duty after taking out the machine gun, but chose to stay with his unit, the 3rd Infantry Division.
He was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously in April 1944 and is buried in Evergreen Cemetery.
“He is a hero for heroes,” Gill said.
Drew Dix, a Medal of Honor recipient and the president of the Medal of Honor Society, told Saturday’s crowd that it “never ceases to amaze (him) the things that good people do for the right reasons.”
“Those who have received Medals of Honor will say that the work we did for others is greater than us,” Dix said. “I’m sure Floyd would feel the same way.”
Dix also addressed the future of veterans’ health care, which has been plagued by long wait times. Data from Veterans Affairs published late last year showed that the Floyd Lindstrom Clinic had some of the nation’s longest delays. One patient in five waits more than a month to be seen, and the average wait for mental health visits is more than three weeks, the data shows.
“They deserve the right care,” Dix said. “We hope that we can create a standard for the health care system that we’re all proud of.”
The medal at the hospital is not the one given to Lindstrom’s family. Lindstrom’s medal is in storage at the Pioneers Museum.
The Center for American Values is negotiating a loan with the museum so the medal can be displayed at the nonprofit office in Pueblo, said the organization’s director Matt Albright.