U.S. Army Veteran Gary M. Rose is Awarded the Medal of Honor
On October 23, 2017, United States Army veteran Captain Gary M. Rose was presented the Medal of Honor by President Donald J. Trump in a ceremony at the White House. The United States military’s highest decoration comes to Rose 47 years after he distinguished himself as a medic during a four-day operation in the Vietnam War.
A video of Gary M. Rose's Medal of Honor ceremony at the White House. (Video Credit: Fox News)
In September, it was announced that Rose’s Distinguished Service Cross would be upgraded to the Medal of Honor. When the news broke, Rose gave credit to all the soldiers he served with in the Army’s Military Assistance Command and Observations Group, a highly secretive and skilled division of the Special Forces. In his 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.”
On September 11, 1970, Rose was the only medic among 16 Green Berets and 120 Vietnamese tribal fighters called Montagnards. They were inserted by helicopter into the Laotian jungle to raid a North Vietnamese encampment. Their covert mission was codenamed Operation Tailwind.
A photo of Rose being presented the Distinguished Service Cross for his heroism during Operation Tailwind. (Photo: stripes.com)
On the second day of Operation Tailwind, Rose came to the rescue of a wounded Montagnard soldier during an enemy assault. Without abandoning his weapon, he crawled his way to the injured man and shielded him with his body while treating his wounds. Rose dragged the soldier back to his allies with one hand while firing his weapon at the enemy with the other. Once he returned to the group, Rose was hit in his back and leg from an NVA rocket-propelled grenade. The shrapnel from the explosion severely injured his foot. Rose recalled, “I got a hole blown through my foot about the size of my thumb.” In spite of his injuries, Rose carried on as always, using a stick as a crutch while treating the wounded.
Towards the end of the operation, Rose was in a helicopter when it was hit by an enemy anti-aircraft round. He 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. Once they finally returned to base, Rose was covered in blood and wounds, but refused treatment until the other wounded men were attended to first.
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 was wounded, three Montagnard soldiers were killed, and three Marine helicopters crashed, including one with Rose inside. Although he was often injured, Rose constantly braved enemy fire to treat wounded comrades. The Army credits him with treating 60-70 wounded personnel and saving many lives during the course of the intense mission.
Rose is now one of the 73 living recipients of the Medal of Honor. Like all who have been awarded the United States military’s highest decoration, his story will be remembered forever.
Gary M. Rose Distinguished Service Cross citation.
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Stars and Stripes: 47 years after Vietnam War secret mission, Green Beret to receive Medal of Honor.
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