Major Bruce P. Crandall received the Medal of Honor during a White House ceremony on February 26, 2007 for displaying marked valor and heroism as a flight Commander in the Republic of Vietnam. Through his act of bravery and courage; he has been able to fetch immense pride to the United States Army. Bruce Crandall was serving with Company A, 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile). He was then serving as a flight Commander.
The Eventful Day It was on November 14, 1965 that Major Crandall and his flight of 16 helicopters were engaged in troop lifting for a search and destroy mission from Plei Me, Vietnam, to Landing Zone X-Ray in the la Drang Valley. The airlift attracted heavy hostile anti aircraft fire on the 4th troop lift. After having refueled the aircraft; it returned for its next troop lift.
By this time, the enemy had targeted Landing Zone X-Ray. On the 5th troop lift, Major Crandall's helicopter as well as the first eight helicopters released their troops. This was when Major Crandall's weaponless helicopter came under fierce enemy fire and the ground commander had to give orders to the second flight of 8 aircrafts to abandon their mission. After having flown back to Plei Me; his operational base, Major Crandall realized that the Ground Commander would urgently require replenishment of ammunition. As an afterthought, Major Crandall in his own wisdom decided to change his operational base to Artillery Firebase Falcon in order to cut down the turn around time and thereby facilitate the replenishment of ammunition and evacuation of casualties. Selfless Devotion to Duty While evacuation of wounded soldiers was not a part of his assignment, he was instrumental in motivating others and sought volunteers and led two aircrafts to the landing zone X-ray and thereby exhibited selfless commitment to the call of duty.
Despite the fact that the landing zone was subjected to intense hostile fire; Major Crandall dared to land and organized the loading of causalities onboard his aircraft and evacuate them to areas of medical facility. Major Crandall's resolute leadership to land under intense hostile conditions instilled ample motivation in his fellow pilots to continue with their operation despite the adverse military situation. This decision of Major Crandall and his fellow pilots instilled confidence in the ground forces as well, that they would continue to be reinforced, replenished and that casualty of evacuation would continue undeterred. Mission Continues; Undeterred Encouraged by the success of his first sortie, Major Crandall continued his mission of casualty evacuation and replenishment of ammunition throughout the day.
At the end of his 22nd sortie; it dawned upon him that he had been instrumental in restoring an adverse military situation. All this would have been impossible without the undaunted leadership and selfless devotion to duty displayed by Major Crandall under extremely adverse operational conditions. A stupendous act of Gallantry By displaying such gallantry in the face of an overwhelming enemy; Major Crandall acted in the true traditions of military service which in turn is reflective of his sense of devotion to duty and patriotic humanism. Such actions of valor by an American pilot are unparalleled in the annals of American military history.
This Article is written by James Kara Murat from USNavySEALstore.com, the contributor of US Special Forces. A longer version of this article is located at Major Bruce P. Crandall and related resources can be found at US Navy SEALs Store.