Michael Crescenz grew up in one of Philadelphia’s booming post-war Catholic neighborhoods, distinguishing himself early on as a leader, brother and friend who fearlessly rose to the defense of others in need. The second of six sons born to a World War II veteran, Michael was known for his big smile, athletic abilities, toughness and fierce competitive spirit. Growing up, Michael’s world revolved around his family, parish, local playgrounds, and the bustling Catholic schools he attended from first grade through high school graduation. All these influences shaped the man he would become — the one who felt a sense of duty to serve his country and enlisted in the U.S. Army to do his part during the Vietnam War.
He was in Vietnam barely two months when his unit, the 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry, was sent into battle against deeply entrenched enemy forces on Nui Chom Mountain, the fortress in the clouds tucked away in the far northwest corner of South Vietnam near the borders with North Vietnam and Laos. Commanders knew they were in for a fight, but didn’t know the enemy had more than 250 machine gun bunkers deployed along the mountain’s slopes. On November 20, 1968, Alpha Company was ambushed on the wet jungle mountainside, the NVA taking down the two men up front and pinning down the rest with relentless fire.
Thinking first of the danger to those around him, Private First Class Michael J. Crescenz picked up an M60 machine gun and charged the enemy bunkers. He did not survive but his actions saved the lives of his fellow soldiers and allowed them to advance and ultimately prevail. For his valor and sacrifice, Michael was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
No Greater Love tells this story from the perspective of those who loved Michael Crescenz most, close friends, family, Michael’s commanding officer in Vietnam, retired Lieutenant General Sam Wetzel, and medic William “Doc” Stafford, the soldier closest to Michael when he was cut down by enemy fire and who believes to this day that he survived Nui Chom only because of the selfless actions of Private First Class Crescenz.