Wednesday, September 05, 2007

MoH Tribute from One Who Was There

I just noticed this fine tribute to Bruce "Ancient Serpent 6" Crandall, of “We Were Soldiers” Crandall todayfame by legendary war correspondent Joe Galloway (who wrote the book on which the movie is based) at Michael Yon's online journal. I posted about his award of the Congressional Medal of Honor for his selfless actions in Vietnam here, but wanted to make sure that you had the chance to read about Crandall from someone who was there - Galloway:

He’s always been a hero to the men of the 1st Battalion 7th U.S. Cavalry who counted on Crandall and his wingman, Ed  (Too Tall to Fly) Freeman, when the chips were down in a fire-swept clearing called Landing Zone X-Ray in the remote Ia Drang Valley in Vietnam’s Central Highlands.

American wounded were piling up and the only thing keeping 2,000 determined North Vietnamese soldiers from overrunning and slaughtering the trapped and badly outnumbered cavalrymen was firepower and an air bridge maintained by Crandall and his 16 Huey helicopters of A Company 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion.


When the fighting was at its worst, on the afternoon of Nov. 14, 1965, Moore had to close the football field-size clearing to the helicopters because two of them had been shot up so badly they couldn’t be flown out. Crandall’s own chopper had been riddled, his crew chief shot in the throat and an infantry radio operator killed before he could unbuckle his seat belt.

Old Snake knew his buddies on the ground were in dire danger and asked for a volunteer to join him in hauling more ammunition and water to them. His best friend, then-Capt. Ed Freeman, didn’t hesitate.

Together Crandall and Freeman flew right into the jaws of hell over and over, sitting up behind the thin Plexiglas and looking out on the chaos of close-quarter combat while the troopers flung off crates of M-16 rifle and M-60 machine gun ammo, mortar rounds and hand grenades and just as swiftly loaded the wounded whose only hope of life was that ride to the field hospital at Camp Holloway in Pleiku.

On that Sunday in November, Crandall flew 22 missions during 14 hours, and carried 70 wounded soldiers to safety and a chance at life.

Don't wait to get over to Yon's site and read the rest.

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