Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Snake Crandall Gets Medal Of Honor

As a 32-year-old helicopter pilot, Major Bruce "Snake" Crandall flew through a gauntlet of enemy fire, taking ammunition in and wounded Americans out of one of the fiercest battles of the Vietnam War in Ia Drang Valley in November 1965.

At the time his unit has no administrative staff and had no way of supplying the required paperwork to Washington to award Crandall the Medal Of Honor. Generals in-theatre could approve nothing higher than the Distinguished Service Cross, so he got one of those, but now 41 years later the paperwork and bureaucracy has been filed and completed and yesterday President Bush awarded the 74 year old retired Lieutenant Colonel Crandall his overdue Medal Of Honor.

The 7th Cavalry regiment "taking some of the heaviest casualties of the war, out of water and fast running out of ammunition, was engaged in one of the fiercest battles of the Vietnam war against a relentlessly attacking, highly motivated, vastly superior force," said U.S. Army documents supporting Crandall's medal. The U.S. forces were up against two regiments of North Vietnamese Army infantry, "determined to overrun and annihilate them".

At the time, Crandall was a commanding a company of the 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile). He didn't have gunners for his aircraft and flew unarmed helicopters into the battlefield. He didn't have night vision equipment and other later technology that lessens the danger of flying.

The fighting became so intense that the helicopter landing zone for delivering and resupplying troops was closed, and a unit assigned to medical evacuation duties refused to fly. Crandall volunteered for the mission and with wingman and longtime friend Major Ed Freeman made flight after flight over three days to deliver water, ammunition and medical supplies. They are credited with saving more than 70 wounded soldiers by flying them out to safety, and Freeman received the Medal of Honor in July 2001.

Without his actions, the embattled men at Ia Drang would have died "cut off, surrounded by numerically superior forces, overrun and butchered to the last man," the infantry commander, Lt.Col. Hal Moore, wrote in recommending Crandall for the medal.

Moore, now a retired lieutenant general, later wrote a book We Were Soldiers Once ... And Young. The book was also adapted into the 2002 film We Were Soldiers with Mel Gibson as Moore and Greg Kinnear as Crandall.

"In men like Bruce Crandall, we really see the best of America," President Bush said. "For the soldiers rescued, for the men who came home, for the children they had and the lives they made, America is in debt to Bruce Crandall."

"I'm still here," he said of his 41-year-wait for the Medal of Honor. "Most of these awards are posthumous, so I can't complain."

Source: Fox News

3 comments:

Civilian Overseer said...

What Mel Gibson, didn't get a medal for this,?, Shame!, Boo!

vaughan said...

Is it just me or does the president look like he's having to think really hard on how to put the medal on?

Lt. Colonel Creedon said...

@ Civvy: Start a campaign to get Mel a Medal. You've got my backing.

@ Vaughan: It's a cross between a teenage boy struggling with a bra strap during his first "tit conquest" and someone trying to solve a Rubic's cube.