Capt Gerald O Young


Shortly before midnight on Nov. 8, 1967, Captain Young, the commander of a HH-3E rescue helicopter, was dispatched to evacuate the survivors of a U.S. Army reconnaissance team. The soldiers were surrounded and about to be captured in enemy-held territory in the Laotian Panhandle. Two helicopters had already been lost trying to rescue them.

Captain Young and his crew were flying as backup for another helicopter on this night operation. The first aircraft managed to pick up three members of the team before extensive battle damage forced it to withdraw. The commander of the craft advised Captain Young that intense enemy fire made the rescue of two soldiers left behind all but impossible. Accompanying gunships were also running low on fuel and ammunition.

Intent on completing the evacuation Captain Young guided his helicopter down into the flare-lit darkness, touching down on a slope not far from the two soldiers. Both wounded, they were loaded aboard under heavy attack with enemy troops closing in. As it moved forward for takeoff, the helicopter was fired on at point-blank range. It plunged downward and crashed in flames in an upside down position. Captain Young dropped out of a cockpit window and rolled down the slope, his parachute afire. Although badly burned, he beat out the flames and gave aid to another crew member, a sergeant, who had also escaped. He then tried to reach the burning helicopter but was driven back by the intense heat. When enemy troops approached the crash scene, he led them away from the wounded sergeant hidden in the underbrush.

At dawn, Captain Young reached a clearing and helped to pinpoint his position for searching aircraft with flares and radio signals, but he broke contact when he realized that he was being used as bait by enemy gunners in the area. He again concealed himself in the dense foliage and continued to evade throughout the day despite the mounting pain of his burns. After 17 hours, Captain Young was finally rescued by a helicopter that he attracted with his radio and by firing tracers with his revolver. He then immediately informed his rescuers of the position of his fellow crew member.

For his heroism in this action, Captain Young was awarded the Medal of Honor. It was presented to him by President Lyndon B. Johnson May 14, 1968, at the Pentagon, Washington, D.C.

See the
full citation from the Congressional Medal of Honor Society website.