Unarmed Forward Air Controllers who risked it all.
Part II is about Dust Off (the Medivacs); III, Rolling Thunder; IV, The Jolly Greens; V, Spooks, Spectres, and Shadows; VI, MiG Killers; VII, Wild Weasel; VIII, Linebacker II.
On 2 May 1968, 12 Green Berets were surrounded near Loc Ninh, South Vietnam, by an entire battalion of NVA. They were thus outnumbered, 12 men versus about 1,000. They dug in and tried to hold them off, but were not going to last long. Benavidez heard their distress call over a radio in town and boarded a rescue helicopter with first aid equipment. He did not have time to grab a weapon before the helicopter left, so he voluntarily jumped into the hot LZ armed only with his knife.
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He sprinted across 75 meters of open terrain through withering small arms and machine gun fire to reach the pinned down MACV-SOG team. By the time he reached them, he had been shot 4 times, twice in the right leg, once through both cheeks, which knocked out four molars, and a glancing shot off his head.He ignored these wounds and began administering first aid. The rescue chopper left as it was not designed to extract men. An extraction chopper was sent for, and Benavidez took command of the men by directing their fire around the edges of the clearing in order to facilitate the chopper’s landing.
When the aircraft arrived, he supervised the loading of the wounded on board, while throwing smoke canisters to direct the chopper’s exact landing. He was wounded severely and at all times under heavy enemy crossfire, but still carried and dragged half of the wounded men to the chopper.He then ran alongside the landing skids providing protective fire into the trees as the chopper moved across the LZ collecting the wounded. The enemy fire got worse, and Benavidez was hit solidly in the left shoulder. He got back up and ran to the platoon leader, dead in the open, and retrieved classified documents. He was shot in the abdomen, and a grenade detonated nearby peppering his back with shrapnel.The chopper pilot was mortally wounded then, and his chopper crashed. Benavidez was in extremely critical condition, and still refused to fall. He ran to the wreckage and got the wounded out of the aircraft, and arranged them into a defensive perimeter to wait for the next chopper.
The enemy automatic rifle fire and grenades only intensified, and Benavidez ran and crawled around the perimeter giving out water and ammunition.The NVA was building up to wipe them out, and Benavidez called in tactical air strikes with a squawk box and threw smoke to direct the fire of arriving gunships. Just before the extraction chopper landed, he was shot again in the left thigh while giving first aid to a wounded man. He still managed to get to his feet and carry some of the men to the chopped, directing the others, when an NVA soldier rushed from the woods and clubbed him over the head with an AK-47.
This caused a skull fracture and a deep gash to his left upper arm, and yet he still got back up and decapitated the soldier with one swing of his knife, severing the spine and all tissue on one side of the neck. He then resumed carrying the wounded to the chopper and returning for others, and was shot twice more in the lower back. He shot two more NVA soldiers trying to board the chopper, then made one last trip around the LZ to be sure all documents were retrieved, and finally boarded the chopper. He had lost 2 quarts of blood. Before he blacked out, he shouted to one of the other Green Berets, “Another great day to be in South Vietnam!” This battle lasted six hours. He had been wounded 37 times.
Courtesy of War History Online
Obtained from YouTube Disasters Channel https://www.youtube.com/user/DisastersChannel
Original source channel “terminated due to multiple or severe violations of YouTube’s policy against spam, deceptive practices, and misleading content or other Terms of Service violations.”
May 31, 2014 Aug 18, 2015
The USS Forrestal (CV-59), formerly AVT-59 and CVA-59, was a supercarrier named after former Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal. Commissioned in 1955, she was the first supercarrier, and was the lead ship of her class. The other carriers of her class were the USS Saratoga, USS Ranger and USS Independence. She superseded the WW II Japanese carrier Shinano as the largest aircraft carrier ever built in terms of full load displacement and was the first to specifically support jet aircraft.
The ship was affectionately called “The FID”, because James Forrestal was the first ever Secretary of Defense, FID standing for “First In Defense”. This is also the slogan on the ship’s insignia and patch. She was also informally known in the fleet as the “USS Zippo” and “Forest Fire” or “Firestal” because of a number of highly publicized fires on board, most notably a 1967 incident in which 134 sailors died and an additional 161 were injured.
Forrestal served for nearly five decades in the Atlantic, Mediterranean, and Pacific. She was decommissioned in 1993, and made available as a museum. Attempts to save her were unsuccessful, however, and in February 2014 she was towed to Brownsville, Texas to be scrapped.
Captain Ed Freeman is the ultimate emergency responder. In an act of profound bravery he flew an unarmed helicopter into a closed landing zone with heavy enemy gunfire to save his comrades – 14 times. Mr. Freeman earned the Medal of Honor for his service in Vietnam. He passed away August 20, 2008. Please take a moment to remember this man and read the citation of a hero.
FREEMAN, ED W.
Rank: Captain Organization: U.S. Army Company: Company A, 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion Division: 1st Cavalry Division Born: 20 November 1927, Hattiesburg, MS Departed: Yes (08/20/2008) Entered Service At: Hattiesburg, MS Date of Issue: 07/16/2001 Accredited To: Hattiesburg, MS
Captain Ed W. Freeman, United States Army, distinguished himself by numerous acts of conspicuous gallantry and extraordinary intrepidity on 14 November 1965 while serving with Company A, 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile).
As a flight leader and second in command of a 16-helicopter lift unit, he supported a heavily engaged American infantry battalion at Landing Zone X-Ray in the Ia Drang Valley, Republic of Vietnam. The unit was almost out of ammunition after taking some of the heaviest casualties of the war, fighting off a relentless attack from a highly motivated, heavily armed enemy force.
When the infantry commander closed the helicopter landing zone due to intense direct enemy fire, Captain Freeman risked his own life by flying his unarmed helicopter through a gauntlet of enemy fire time after time, delivering critically needed ammunition, water and medical supplies to the besieged battalion. His flights had a direct impact on the battle’s outcome by providing the engaged units with timely supplies of ammunition critical to their survival, without which they would almost surely have gone down, with much greater loss of life.
After medical evacuation helicopters refused to fly into the area due to intense enemy fire, Captain Freeman flew 14 separate rescue missions, providing life-saving evacuation of an estimated 30 seriously wounded soldiers — some of whom would not have survived had he not acted. All flights were made into a small emergency landing zone within 100 to 200 meters of the defensive perimeter where heavily committed units were perilously holding off the attacking elements.
Captain Freeman’s selfless acts of great valor, extraordinary perseverance and intrepidity were far above and beyond the call of duty or mission and set a superb example of leadership and courage for all of his peers. Captain Freeman’s extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit and the United States Army.
Thanks to the Congressional Medal of Honor Society. Please visit their site. http://www.cmohs.org/