The Fruit of Spiritual Fitness
One of a handful of individuals to ever earn the combination of the Medal of
Honor, the Distinguished Service Cross, and the Distinguished Service Medal, this
great American hero is the only American to earn those three awards along with six
awards of the Distinguished Flying Cross.
On Jan. 6, 1968, a pilot volunteered to rescue the wounded from a heavily
defended and fog-blanketed site in enemy territory near Chu Lai, Republic of
Vietnam. Flying `nap of the earth' with his UH-1 series Huey utility ambulance
helicopter (UH-1H) turned sideways to blow away the fog, he flew through
uncontested, close-range enemy fire to land and rescue the first set of wounded.
Immediately, he was called to another equally dangerous site where two previous
aircrafts had been shot down. With unmatched skill and extraordinary courage, this
pilot not only executed that evacuation successfully, he also returned and
conducted three more separate evacuations from the same site.
Later in the day, the pilot landed his UH-1H in a site completely surrounded
by the enemy. Though his controls were virtually destroyed by enemy fire, he
successfully evacuated the wounded from the site. Obtaining another aircraft, he
answered yet another call to land in an enemy minefield and rescued trapped
soldiers. Throughout the day, this pilot utilized three helicopters to evacuate 51
severely wounded soldiers. It was for his actions that day that he earned the Medal
of Honor, the first award of the Medal to a `dust off' pilot. Overall, he evacuated
5,000 wounded soldiers during his service in Vietnam.
Following 34 years of honorable service, this combat pilot retired from the
Army as a Major General and later served as the President of the Congressional
Medal of Honor Society. In the years since that heroic day, he has consistently
referred to the spiritual fitness that undergirded his actions. He stated that he
believes the key to courage is faith. In combat, he coped with fear through his faith.
He said it's a great source of calm, of comfort, and it gave him great confidence. He
thought that because of his faith, he was able to do things that, for him, would have
otherwise been impossible.
Taken from Medal of Honor Citation and an USACHCS interview
with the pilot.
10 May 2005