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Old 07-05-2022, 06:21 PM
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Arrow Medal of honor awarded to 4 soldiers for heroism vietnam

By: Jenna Biter - CoffeeorDie News - 07-05-22

Note: There are several photos on site if interested.

When a seemingly peaceful Vietnamese village erupted in an ambush, Staff Sgt. Edward N. Kaneshiro jumped into action. With just six grenades and his M16, he cleared a trench of enemy fighters who had pinned down two squads of his fellow American soldiers.

Kaneshiro was an infantry squad leader in the 9th Cavalry Regiment of the 1st Cavalry Division on Dec. 1, 1966, when his unit approached a village known as Phu Huu 2. Hiding in the village was a mass of North Vietnamese troops inside a network of heavily fortified bunkers and tunnels connected by a central trench that cut through the village.

Fooled by the silence, two US squads beelined to the heart of the village and were immediately pinned down by North Vietnamese gunfire.

It was a trap.

Kaneshiro, scouting nearby, rerouted his squad toward the gunfire.

He ordered his squad to take cover, then crawled alone toward a machine-gunner firing from the central trench.

Kaneshiro tossed his first grenade directly through the small port of a bunker, taking out the gunner. He then hopped into the trench himself. For 35 meters, he advanced up the trench, engaging North Vietnamese fighters with his rifle and grenades. Because of Kaneshiro’s actions, the two trapped squads were able to break contact, reorganize, and collect their dead before navigating out of the village.

Kaneshiro survived the Phu Huu 2 ambush but was killed in action on March 6, 1967.

On Tuesday, July 5, Kaneshiro was one of four soldiers awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Vietnam. President Joe Biden presented all four medals in a White House ceremony, awarding Kaneshiro’s posthumous medal for his actions during the Phu Huu 2 ambush to his family.

All four soldiers — Kaneshiro, Spc. 5th Class Dennis M. Fujii, Spc. 5th Class Dwight Birdwell, and Maj. John J. Duffy — had earlier valor awards for putting themselves in harm’s way to defend injured comrades that were upgraded to the Medal of Honor.

Biden credited the upgrades to a congressionally ordered review of the heroic actions of Asian Americans, Native Americans, and Pacific Islanders who served during the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Kaneshiro was the son of Japanese immigrants and was born and raised in Hawaii, as was Fujii. Birdwell is a member of the Cherokee Nation.

“Today, we’re setting the record straight,” Biden said. “We’re upgrading the awards of four soldiers who performed acts of incredible heroism during the Vietnam conflict, to respect the conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity of their service. I’m proud to finally award our highest military recognition, the Medal of Honor, to each of you, one posthumously.”

Kaneshiro’s son, John, received the Medal of Honor on his father’s behalf. “Your family sacrificed so much for our country,” Biden said to him. “I know that no award could ever make up for the loss of your father, for not having him there as you grew up, but I hope today you take some pride and comfort in knowing his valor is finally receiving the full recognition it has always deserved.”

Fujii served as the crew chief of a medevac helicopter in the Vietnam War. His award was upgraded to the Medal of Honor for his actions during a rescue mission in Vietnam and neighboring Laos from Feb. 18 to 22, 1971. After Fujii’s helicopter crash-landed, he provided aid to allied casualties and called in air strikes as the only American on the ground. He finished his tour in Vietnam, then served in the Army Reserve. He is a Native Hawaiian and still resides in the state.

Birdwell served in the 4th Cavalry of the 25th Infantry Division. Biden upgraded his award to the Medal of Honor for his actions during the opening assault of the Tet Offensive on Jan. 31, 1968. When his tank commander was wounded, Birdwell got him to safety and took his place. After exhausting all of the ammunition in his tank and personal rifle, Birdwell retrieved an M60 machine gun from a downed helicopter, firing it until the gun exploded in his hands, riddling his body with shrapnel.

Biden noted that, when ordered to evacuate, Birdwell boarded the helicopter, then crawled out the other side to rejoin the fight.

“That’s what you call taking orders and causing trouble,” Biden said.

Birdwell survived the assault and became a lawyer, eventually serving on the Cherokee Nation’s Supreme Court.

Duffy was a Special Forces officer tasked with defending Tan Son Nhut Airbase in 1972. Injured twice, he refused to leave his battalion command post, instead continuing to call in air strikes. Wounded a third time, he still refused to evacuate. Eventually, he led other evacuees to rescue helicopters and boarded only when all others were on board. Duffy retired from the Army in 1977 and lives in California.

Another post - US Marine World War II - Medial of Honor recipient LAST LIVING WWII MEDAL OF HONOR RECIPIENT WOODY WILLIAMS DIES AT 98
By: Hanna Ray Lambert: 06-29-22

Five days into the Battle of Iwo Jima, Hershel “Woody” Williams was the only Marine left standing in his six-man demolition team; the others had all been killed or grievously wounded. But Williams’ unit still faced a seemingly endless maze of buried mines and Japanese pillboxes spewing machine-gun fire.

With only four riflemen covering him, Williams grimly rushed forward with his flamethrower, beginning the valiant charge for which he would receive the nation’s highest military honor.

Williams, who was the last living World War II Medal of Honor recipient, died early Wednesday, June 29, in his home state of West Virginia, leaving behind a legacy of bravery, heroism, and love of country.

“Woody exemplified a life of dedicated service, both on and off the battlefield,” the National Medal of Honor Museum wrote Wednesday in a statement.

Born on Oct. 2, 1923, on a dairy farm in Quiet Dell, West Virginia, Williams often described himself as a country boy with humble beginnings. He grew up during the Great Depression as the youngest of 11 children, six of whom never made it to adulthood, according to a biography from the National Medal of Honor Museum. Williams worked numerous odd jobs growing up, including as a taxi driver who was often tasked with delivering telegrams to soldiers’ family members, informing them of the loss of their loved ones.

When Williams’ family heard about the attack on Pearl Harbor, two of his brothers immediately joined the US Army. But Williams said he “didn’t want to be caught dead […] wearing that brown ugly Army uniform,” so he signed up for the Marine Corps instead.

The Corps initially rejected Williams because he was only 5 feet, 6 inches tall. It took two more years before the service reduced its height requirement and Williams was accepted into the branch he so admired.

Williams joined the “Hollywood Marines,” training in San Diego, California, before shipping off to Guadalcanal in the South Pacific, where he trained as a demolition man and flamethrower operator. He briefly saw combat in July of 1944 during the battle to retake Guam. But the battle that would forever change the course of Williams’ life came the following year, when he was assigned to the 21st Marines, 3rd Marine Division.

The reserve unit was sent ashore two days after the Battle of Iwo Jima had begun, and the unit entered a chaotic and brutal scene. The terrain was difficult to navigate, and American forces were already suffering heavy casualties.

On Feb. 23, 1945, five days into the fight, Williams was the only Marine from his demolition team remaining on the battlefield. US tanks couldn’t get past the buried mines and black volcanic sand to take out the reinforced concrete pillboxes unleashing devastating machine-gun fire on American troops, so Williams’ company commander asked whether he could use his flamethrower to wipe out some of the pillboxes.

“I’ll try,” Williams replied. Then he picked up his flamethrower and charged forward.

Over the next four hours, Williams managed to take out seven Japanese pillboxes using six different flamethrowers, all the while dodging small-arms fire.

During one charge, Williams jumped onto a pillbox and inserted the nozzle of the flamethrower through an air vent, incinerating everyone inside and stopping the gun.

In another instance, he ran at bayonet-wielding riflemen and blasted them with a burst of flame.

“His unyielding determination and extraordinary heroism in the face of ruthless enemy resistance were directly instrumental in neutralizing one of the most fanatically defended Japanese strongpoints encountered by his regiment and aided vitally in enabling his company to reach its objective,” his Medal of Honor citation reads.

President Harry S. Truman presented Williams with the Medal of Honor on Oct. 5, 1945. Less than two weeks later, he married his wife, Ruby. They had two daughters and were married for more than 60 years until Ruby died in 2007.

Williams spent two decades in the Marine Corps and Marine Corps Reserve, advancing to the rank of chief warrant officer before retiring. He worked as a veterans service representative with the Department of Veterans Affairs for 33 years. He also served as the commandant of the Veterans Nursing Home in Barboursville, West Virginia, and as the chaplain for the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.

Inspired by his early experience delivering telegrams to soldiers’ family members, Williams founded the Woody Williams Foundation to support Gold Star Families. The nonprofit has established more than 100 monuments across the country so far, with more than 70 additional monuments underway, according to the Woody Williams Foundation.

“Service is within all of us,” Williams once said. “Every time we do something to help another person, we get a residual of that that makes us feel good, makes us feel proud that we could do something for someone else. And, there’s no feeling like it.”

Williams died at 3:15 a.m. on Wednesday surrounded by his family at the VA Medical Center named in his honor in Huntington, West Virginia, according to a release from the Woody Williams Foundation.

There are only 63 recipients of the Medal of Honor still alive today, according to the National Medal of Honor Museum.

Read Next: Dustoff Crew Chief Dennis Fujii Will Receive Medal of Honor for Actions in Vietnam War
By: Matt Fratus - Coffee or Die News - 06-28-22

On Tuesday, July 5, 2022, President Joe Biden will award Spc. 5th Class Dennis Fujii the Medal of Honor, an upgrade from the Distinguished Service Cross he received five decades earlier for his actions in Laos during the Vietnam War.

Fujii served as a crew chief on a Bell UH-1 Iroquois, or “Huey,” helicopter, one emblazoned with big red crosses identifying it as a medevac aircraft. Like the majority of US Army Air Ambulance crews, Fujii’s went by the call sign “Dustoff,” and their job often entailed flying into hot landing zones to evacuate dead and wounded GIs. It is for Fujii’s actions during one such mission that he will soon receive the Medal of Honor, at which point he will become the third member of a Dustoff crew ever to receive the nation’s highest military decoration for valor.

“Thousands of helicopter pilots and crewmen earned the Medal of Honor in the Vietnam War,” Dustoff veteran and historian Phil Marshall told Coffee or Die Magazine, noting a distinction between earning and actually receiving the medal. “Dennis Fujii most certainly was one of them.”

In February 1971, the Army of the Republic of Vietnam, or ARVN, launched Operation Lam Son 719. Its primary objective was to disrupt the North Vietnamese Army supply line known as the Ho Chi Minh Trail where it ran through eastern Laos. Fujii’s medical detachment, the 237th, was on standby to help with casualty evacuations. On Feb. 8, the first ARVN troops crossed the border into Laos and the operation got underway. Ten days later, Fujii’s four-man crew was dispatched to fire support base Ranger North, a North Vietnamese Army-built outpost that had been overtaken by the ARVN. The base was located on a hilltop approximately 9 kilometers inside Laos.

Medic Spc. 4th Class Paul Simcoe rode in the back of the Huey along with Fujii. He would later recall hearing over the radio that the ARVN troops at Ranger North had reported that they had not been in contact with the enemy for two days. This particular detail mattered for the Dustoff crew as they tried to determine the best approach to the landing zone and prepared for the rescue that lay ahead. But as it turned out, the information was wrong. In fact, the ARVN troops at Ranger North were under siege.

“As we approached the hill, we realized [the ARVN] had not been quite forthcoming with us,” Simcoe is quoted as saying in Phil Marshall’s book DMZ Dustoff Vietnam: True Stories of Unarmed Medevac Missions As Told by the Men Who Flew Them, a collection of testimonials by Dustoff veterans recounting their most daring missions in Indochina during the war. “They were taking fire from every direction, including artillery and mortars, the whole hill was covered in smoke.”

Approaching the hilltop from the south, the Dustoff pilot made several passes before finally attempting to land. At that point, all hell broke loose. As the Huey descended, ARVN troops dropped their wounded comrades and rushed toward the landing zone. (Marshall claims that, during the Vietnam War, it was not uncommon to see ARVN soldiers abandon their positions — and their wounded — during heavy battles and try to climb aboard medevac helicopters in hopes of being airlifted out.)

The swarm of ARVN soldiers around the Huey made it an even bigger target than it already was. The NVA zeroed in, unleashing a barrage of mortars and heavy machine-gun fire that ripped through the helicopter and wounded both pilots. Simcoe and Fujii scrambled off the aircraft and ran toward a nearby ditch.

En route to the ditch, Fujii was wounded in the shoulder by an exploding mortar, and Simcoe bandaged him up. The Americans took cover in a bunker as another Dustoff helicopter swooped in. Intense enemy gunfire forced the Dustoff to abort the rescue attempt and fly away. Then, another Dustoff arrived, and despite the enemy fire, this one managed to land. Once again, everyone rushed toward the landing zone, including Fujii and Simcoe, and the NVA opened up with mortars and heavy machine-gun fire.

Standing out in the open, Fujii was hit by another piece of shrapnel, this time in the head, and his vision went blurry. The other four members of Fujii’s crew made it to the helicopter and climbed aboard, but Fujii had fallen behind because of his injuries. Not wanting to risk another downed aircraft and more wounded men, he decided to wave off the helicopter.

“I remember as they pitched to leave,” Fujii later recalled. “I know they didn’t want to leave me there, I could tell.”

Now the only American on the hilltop, Fujii took refuge in a bunker and used a PRC-25 radio to inform the other Dustoff crews in the area that the landing zone was too hot for another rescue attempt. Then he requested air support. His request was granted, and a light fire team of Bell AH-1 Cobra helicopters soon arrived on station accompanied by other aerial assets known as fast movers.

Operating under the call sign “Papa Whiskey,” Fujii instructed the Cobras to make gun runs within 50 meters of his position and the fast movers to bomb NVA targets not much farther away than that. For more than 17 hours, Fujii coordinated with six flareships and seven gunships to suppress the enemy.

According to his Distinguished Service Cross citation, “Specialist Fujii repeatedly exposed himself to hostile fire as he left the security of his entrenchment to better observe enemy troop positions and to direct air strikes against them.” The citation also notes that, at times, the “fighting became so vicious that Specialist Fujii was forced to interrupt radio transmittal in order to place suppressive rifle fire on the enemy while at close quarters.”

There was a lull in the battle the following day. That evening, however, around 9 p.m., the NVA launched an all-out ground assault. Fujii was coordinating with an AC-130 Spooky gunship, but the crew’s view of the battlefield was obscured by mist. So he retrieved a strobe light from his downed helicopter and used that to mark enemy targets.

In his account of the battle that appears in Marshall’s book, Fujii recalls instructing the Spooky gunship to “shoot up the whole hill and perimeter,” adding: “I guess the NVA didn’t hear Spooky come back because they were caught with their pants down, out in the open. Lots of casualties. We had no re-supply, no ammo, no nothin’, I told the AVRNs to take what we had captured and learn to fire AK-47s.”

Fujii knew that he could only hold off the enemy for so long. The fighting was becoming more desperate, and the ARVN soldiers inside the bunkers with him were removing their uniforms and tearing up their military identification papers. But just when it seemed that the base was about to be overrun, the cavalry showed up.

On Feb. 20, a fleet of US Army helicopters descended on Ranger North to rescue the besieged soldiers. Fujii and hundreds of ARVN troops were airlifted off the hilltop. En route back to Vietnam, Fujii’s helicopter was shot up and had to make an emergency landing at another fire base just a few kilometers from Ranger North. Two days later, he finally made it out of Laos, alive and in the back of a Huey that delivered him to Camp Eagle in central Vietnam. From there, he was moved to the 85th Evacuation Hospital in Phu Bai, where he recovered from his wounds.

Fujii is one of four Vietnam veterans who will be awarded the Medal of Honor. The other recipients are: Spc. 5th Class Dwight Birdwell, who first received the Silver Star for helping an armored unit escape an ambush in 1968; Maj. John J. Duffy, a Special Forces officer initially awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for defending his base in 1972; and Staff Sgt. Edward N. Kaneshiro, who in 1967 single-handedly cleared an enemy trench to allow his teammates to escape. Kaneshiro will receive the Medal of Honor posthumously.
Personal note: VN sucked and was costly. I lost many Bud's during that war and
it was tough to live with and several memories shoot back in my head that we
were once kids that played together - went to school together and enlisted not
drafted for VN duty. My best Bud I went to school together. Geoge Yocum and
several others from our neighborhood were lost and more have died since
coming home from AO - Awful and painfull - at the same time. I miss them
all - what more can I say?

O Almighty Lord God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest; Protect and assist, we beseech thee, all those who at home or abroad, by land, by sea, or in the air, are serving this country, that they, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore in all perils; and being filled with wisdom and girded with strength, may do their duty to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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