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Phil Ward enlisted in the United States Army as an Airborne Volunteer and graduated from Infantry Officers Candidate School, Jump School and Ranger School at Fort Benning, Ga. At the age of 19, he became one of the youngest officers ever to earn the Ranger tab. He served in Vietnam as a member of an airmobile strike force that operated throughout the Mekong Delta in 1968. On one mission his unit air-assaulted into a hot LZ and made contact with a Main Force Vietcong Regiment of between 800 and 1,300 men. During the first minutes of the ensuing battle, which became known as the ‘Battle of the Plain of Reeds’, Ward was placed in command by his dying commanding officer. Calling in air strikes in the absence of artillery support, Ward succeeded in extricating his unit from the nearly fatal position while pinning down the enemy until re-enforcements could fly in and destroy them. As a result of his service in Vietnam, Ward received the Silver Star, the Soldier’s Medal, the Bronze Start with Valor Device (three awards), the Army Commendation Medal with Valor Device (three awards), the Purple Heart (two awards), the Air Medal, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry and the Combat Infantry Badge. His unit was the recipient of the Presidential Unit Citation.Upon returning from Vietnam, Ward enrolled in Southwest Texas State University, now Texas State University at San Marcos, and graduated with a degree in criminal justice. In the late 1970s, Ward developed a family property a few miles north of Austin, Texas, a successful project that proved seminal in the subsequent growth of that community. Following that he developed and wrote course texts for a driver-education business that he co-founded. His curricula published nationwide are used by more than 1,000 privately owned drive safety schools nationwide.
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