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U.S. Army Veteran Gary M. Rose to be Awarded the Medal of Honor


47 years after going above and beyond the call of duty during a covert four-day mission in the Vietnam War, retired Army Captain Gary M. Rose will be awarded the United States military’s highest decoration. On October 23, 2017, Rose will be presented the Medal of Honor by President Donald J. Trump in a ceremony at the White House.

Rose was originally awarded the Distinguished Service Cross just four months after conducting a Special Forces mission “in which he survived bullet and rocket wounds and a helicopter crash to provide life-saving aid to more than 100 comrades.” The Distinguished Service Cross is the U.S. military’s second highest medal for valor. Stars and Stripes writes, “Soldiers who served with him, lawmakers and Pentagon officials lobbied for several years for Rose’s award to be upgraded, which required a special waiver passed by congress and presidential approval.” The hard work of everyone who lobbied is about to pay off. Captain Gary M. Rose will soon receive what he valiantly earned.

"U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Gary M. Rose, Field Artillery, Fort Sill, Okla., Feb. 10, 1975." (Photo: U.S. Army)

In a statement released by the U.S. Army, Rose said that he was honored to be selected for the Medal of Honor. He maintains that the decoration belongs to the soldiers he served with in the Army’s Military Assistance Command and Observations Group during the Vietnam War. In Rose’s words, “That medal to me, recognizes finally the service of all the men in all those years that served in MACSOG. It’s a collective medal from my perspective.” Rose also stated, “There were only about 2,000 people who were ever in MACSOG from 1965 to 1972.” He believes that the work that this secretive unit was responsible for saved many American lives during the conflict.

Rose was a sergeant at the time of the action that he will be awarded the Medal of Honor for. During the action, he was the only medic among 16 Green Berets and 120 Vietnamese tribal fighters called Montagnards. On September 11, 1970, these forces were dropped by helicopter into the Laotian jungle to raid a North Vietnamese encampment. The mission was codenamed, Operation Tailwind.

Rose is helped from a helicopter landing area after Operation Tailwind. (Photo: U.S. Army)

By the end of the four-day operation, nearly every Green Beret and Montagnard soldier was wounded, three Montagnards were killed, and three Marine helicopters crashed, including one with Rose inside. Although Rose was often injured himself, he constantly braved enemy fire to treat wounded comrades. In one such example from his Distinguished Service Cross citation, “One ally, was unable to reach protective shelter due to his weakened condition. Sergeant Rose, braving the bullet-infested zone, sprinted fifty meters to his downed comrade’s side. The sergeant then used his own body to protect the casualty from further injury while treating his wounds.” Rose then managed to move the wounded man back to cover.

In another situation towards the end of the mission, Rose was in a helicopter when it was hit by an enemy anti-aircraft round. Rose noticed that a Marine helicopter crewman had been shot in the neck and rendered life-saving medical aid to him before the aircraft crashed. After the crash, the helicopter was leaking fuel and smoking. Although Rose was thrown from the vehicle on impact, he crawled back into the chopper and pulled his wounded comrades from the wreckage. Rose provided medical treatment to the injured until another helicopter could move in and extract them.

"Capt. Eugene C. McCarley (center), commander of B-company, and other members of Sgt. Gary M. Rose’s unit after Operation Tailwind, Sept. 14, 1970." (Photo: U.S. Army)

Rose’s actions explain why all 16 Green Berets and many Montagnard soldiers returned alive from the dangerous mission they were engaged in. His heroic actions are unquestionably deserving of the United States military’s highest decoration. Rose said, “I am going to have the privilege of being able to meet the president of the United States with my dear wife, in the Oval Office.” He added further, “And that is something I will treasure until the end of my days.”

I encourage every American to watch live on October 23, 2017 as Gary M. Rose is awarded the Medal of Honor. Stay tuned for more as we get closer to the official date of the ceremony at the White House.

Sources

Gary M. Rose Distinguished Service Cross citation.

Stars and Stripes - 47 years after Vietnam War secret mission, Green Beret to receive Medal of Honor.

U.S. Army - Vietnam War Soldier to receive Medal of Honor for actions in Laos.

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