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Texas House Unveils Portrait of Medal of Honor Recipient Clarence Sasser '73

Miranda Henderson '09 September 17, 2021 4:40 PM updated: September 20, 2021 5:31 PM

Photo by Jordyn Steinberger '17
Photo by Jordyn Steinberger '17

On Aug. 30, the Texas House of Representatives honored Medal of Honor recipient Clarence Sasser ’73 with the dedication and unveiling of his portrait in the House chamber. Reps. Greg Bonnen ’88 and Cody Vasut ’09 introduced Sasser on the House floor and described the actions for which he earned the United States’ highest and most prestigious military decoration.

Rep. Bonnen told how U.S. Army Specialist Sasser, a combat medic during the Vietnam conflict, and his company came under enemy fire on Jan. 10, 1968.

“After his unit suffered more than 30 casualties in the first few minutes of an air assault… Specialist Sasser gallantly ran across an open rice paddy amid a hail of bullets to tend to the injured,” said Bonnen. “He continued to provide urgently needed treatment under intense fire, even after being badly wounded himself in both legs as well as in his left shoulder. He ultimately cared for a group of his fellow soldiers for five hours under desperate circumstances before they could all finally be evacuated.”

“Demonstrating extraordinary courage in the line of duty, Clarence Sasser fulfilled the highest ideals of the United States Armed Forces, and he has earned the lasting admiration of a grateful state and nation,” he continued.

Bonnen ended his remarks by recounting his experience growing up in Angleton, where he and his siblings learned the story of their hometown hero. One of those siblings, former Rep. Dennis Bonnen, spearheaded this initiative to honor Sasser during his tenure as House Speaker during the 86th Legislative Session. In his statement, former Rep. Bonnen expressed that “Mr. Sasser epitomizes everything that IS Texas, most notably courage, integrity, and loyalty.”

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Sasser’s portrait was painted by James Tennison, who also painted the official portraits of Texas governors Ann Richards and Rick Perry ’72.

Following his military service, Sasser was personally recruited to Texas A&M University by then-president Gen. Earl Rudder ’32. He enrolled at Texas A&M as a chemistry major in 1969. In 2013, Texas A&M added Sasser to the Memorial Student Center’s Hall of Honor, making him the first African-American Medal of Honor recipient and the first Vietnam veteran to be included in the hall.

Watch the dedication and unveiling of Sasser’s portrait on the Texas House of Representatives’ archived broadcasts (Aug. 30, at about 19 minutes).

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