Feb. 10, 2007 “ More than 40 years after demonstrating the
heroism immortalized in the bestselling book and movie, We
Were Soldiers Once and Young, retired Army
Lt. Col. Bruce P. Crandall will receive the Medal of Honor, the White
House announced yesterday. Crandall will
receive the nation's highest military award for actions during
the Battle of Ia Drang Valley in Vietnam in November 1965. The battle,
at Landing Zone X-Ray near the Ia Drang River, was the first major
ground battle of the war.
incident, Crandall, then a major and commander of Company A, 229th
Assault Helicopter Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile), dodged
intense enemy fire as he repeatedly flew to a landing zone to rescue
and resupply besieged 1st Cavalry Division ground troops.
The narrative for
Crandall's Medal of Honor credits him with displaying
leadership by example and fearless courage as he voluntarily
flew his unarmed helicopter through a gauntlet of enemy fire on flight
after flight, delivering desperately needed ammunition, water and
medical supplies into one of the most hotly contested landing zones of
Crandall led a
flight of 16 helicopters in support of the 1st Cavalry
Division's 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, which was out
of water, running dangerously low on ammunition and engaging about two
regiments of North Vietnamese army infantry determined to
overrun and annihilate them, the narrative reads.
When the enemy
fire got so intense that the infantry commander closed the landing
zone, Crandall volunteered for the mission. He and his wingman, Maj. Ed
Freeman, are credited with saving more than 70 wounded soldiers by
transporting them to safety.
the Medal of Honor for his efforts in July 2001.
about the battle recognize Crandall and Freeman's
contributions. Among the most well-known is the bestselling We
Were Soldiers Once and Young, coauthored by
Lt. Gen. Harold Moore, commanding officer of infantry units in X-Ray,
and Joseph Galloway, a combat reporter who was in the landing zone
during the battle.
A major motion
picture based on the book featured actor Greg Kinnear as Crandall.
Later during his
Vietnam tour, Crandall demonstrated another act of heroism. While under
enemy fire, using a flashlight to guide his UH-1 Huey helicopter, he
dropped through dense jungle to rescue 12 wounded soldiers. For that
action, he was awarded the first AVCO-Aviation/Space Writers
Association Helicopter Heroism Award. This award is sponsored by the
Aviation/Space Writers Association and AVCC Corporation, and is awarded
to an individual for heroism efforts involving the use of helicopter..
During a second
tour in Vietnam, in 1968, Crandall was downed during another rescue
attempt and spent five months in the hospital. He resumed his military
career, retiring as a lieutenant colonel in 1977.
inducted into the Army Aviation Hall of Fame at Fort Rucker, Ala., in
2004. He also was the seventh Army inductee into the "Gathering
of Eagles", a U.S. Air Force organization that honors
contributors to aviation.
Bush will present
Crandall the Medal of Honor during a Feb. 26 White House ceremony.
the Medal of Honor, Crandall will join 111 other living recipients of
the award, 60 of them awarded for actions in Vietnam, according to the
Congressional Medal of Honor Society.
The Medal of
Honor, the highest U.S. military decoration, is awarded "for
conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life, above and
beyond the call of duty, in actual combat against an armed enemy
force." Since it was first awarded during the Civil War, the medal has
been awarded 3,461 times.
The Medal of Honor
was last presented to the family of 22-year-old Marine Cpl. Jason L.
Dunham, who died using his body to shield fellow Marines in Iraq from a
hand grenade April 15, 2004. President Bush awarded Dunham'ss
Medal of Honor posthumously during a Jan. 11 ceremony at the White