June 29, 2016

No Vietnam vet has received this honor - it's time!

Maj. Gen. Patrick H. Brady (USA, ret.), who received the Medal of Honor as a “Dust Off” medivac pilot in Vietnam and is considered America’s most decorated living veteran, has issued a call to all veterans, and all Americans, to belatedly recognize and honor “America’s most reviled and neglected veterans – the Vietnam veteran,” by urging Congress to adopt the Dust Off Crews of the Vietnam War Congressional Gold Medal Act (S. 2268 in the Senate, H.R. 5299 in the House).

“Amazingly, no individual veteran or unit has received a Congressional Gold Medal specifically for service in Vietnam.” Gen. Brady writes. “Yet Vietnam may be the only war we ever fought in which the heroism of the American soldier was accompanied by a humanitarianism unmatched in the annals of warfare. And the humanitarianism took place during the heat of battle. The GI fixed as he fought, he cured and educated and built in the middle of the battle. What other Army has ever done that? Humanitarianism was American’s great victory in Vietnam.”

In recognition of that, Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Reps. David Reichert, R-Wash., and Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., are co-sponsoring the Dust Off Crews of the Vietnam War Congressional Gold Medal Act.

The belated Dust Off Act is strongly supported by the nation’s largest veterans service organizations, including The American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, AmVets, The Association of the U.S. Army, Army Aviation Assn. and others.

The American Legion National Executive Committee voted in May to adopt Resolution 33, calling “upon the United States Congress to award to all Dust Off personnel who served in the Vietnam War the Congressional Gold Medal.”

Delegates to the American Legion Department of California Convention 2016, June 24-26, voted to adopt a resolution calling on California’s two senators and all House members to vote for passage of the Dust Off Gold Medal Act.

The “Dust Off” medivac rescues were extremely dangerous duty, with an estimated “1-in-3 chance of being wounded or killed.” The Dust Off Gold Medal Act notes, among many other things about Dust Off crews, that members of the Dust Off 54th Detachment received: one Medal of Honor, one Distinguished Flying Cross, 14 Silver Stars, 26 Distinguished Flying Crosses, two Bronze Stars for valor, four Air Medals for valor, four Soldier’s Medals and 26 Purple Hearts.

“Gen. Creighton Abrams, Army Chief of Staff, Supreme Commander of all forces in Vietnam, singled out the Dust Off crews as the prototype of the Vietnam warrior,” Gen. Brady notes, quoting Abrams’ tribute:

“A special word about the Dust Offs … Courage above and beyond the call of duty is sort of routine to them. It was a daily thing, part of the way they lived. That’s the great part, and it meant so much to every last man who served there. Whether he ever got hurt or not, he knew Dust Off was there. It was a great thing for our people.”

Gen. Brady, who flew over 2,500 combat rescue missions in two tours, tells the story of the Dust Off crews’ heroism and humanitarianism in his book, co-authored with his combat veteran daughter, Capt. Meghan Brady Smith (USA, Bronze Star, Iraq): “Dead Men Flying: Victory in Vietnam —The Legend of Dust Off, America’s Battlefield Angels” (WND Books).

Gen. Brady’s emphasis in the book is the untold story of the unprecedented humanitarianism, as well as heroism, of Vietnam veterans generally in the midst of war, of which Dust Off crews are emblematic.

“Spearheading the humanitarianism efforts were the Dust Off crews, the most dangerous of all aviation missions, which rescued some 1 million souls, men, women, children, enemy as well as friendly. Any American who visits Vietnam today will see the fruits of the GI’s charity to those people,” writes Gen. Brady.

“As the Department of Defense observes the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War, we have – for the first time – a bill in both houses of Congress, with bipartisan sponsorship, recognizing Vietnam veterans by award of a Congressional Gold Medal, S. 2268 and H.R. 5299,” Gen. Brady writes.

He concludes: “This effort has the support of every major veterans organization in America. I urge all veterans, all Americans, to urge their senators and House members to co-sponsor this Congressional Gold Medal for America’s most mistreated veterans – the Vietnam Veterans.”

By:  Rees Lloyd
Source: WND