More than 47 years after his heroic actions in Laos during the Vietnam War, Army Capt. Gary Michael Rose was recognized with the Medal of Honor.
"This will enshrine him into the history of our nation," said
President Donald J. Trump, during the Medal of Honor ceremony at the
White House on October 23, 2017.
Rose served as a combat medic during the Vietnam War with the
Military Assistance Command Studies and Observations Group, part of
Army Special Forces. He was recognized for his actions between Sept.
11-14, 1970, in Laos. The mission he was part of, "Operation
Tailwind," had for many years been classified.
October 23, 2017 - President Donald J. Trump presents the Medal of
Honor to Retired U.S. Army Captain Gary M. Rose in a ceremony at the
the White House in Washington, D.C. Rose was awarded the Medal of
Honor for actions during Operation Tailwind in Southeastern Laos
during the Vietnam War, September 11-14, 1970. Then-Sgt. Rose was
assigned to the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) at the time of
the action. (DoD photo by C. Todd Lopez)
Trump said Operation Tailwind was meant to prevent the
North Vietnamese Army from funneling weapons to their own
forces through Laos, along the Ho Chi Minh trail. The
operation involved about 136 men, including 16 American
soldiers and 120 Montagnards -- indigenous people from
Vietnam’s Central Highlands.
The men were inserted by
helicopter deep inside Laos.
"Once they landed in the
clearing, they rushed to the jungle for much-needed cover,"
Trump said. "Soon, another man was shot outside their
defensive perimeter. Mike immediately rushed to his injured
comrade, firing at the enemy as he ran. In the middle of the
clearing, under the machine gun fire, Mike treated the
wounded soldier. He shielded the man with his own body and
carried him back to safety."
That was just the start of the four-day mission, Trump
said. There was much more to come.
"Mike and his unit slashed through the dense jungle, dodged
bullets, dodged explosives, dodged everything that you can
dodge because they threw it all at him, and continuously
returned fire as they moved deeper and deeper and deeper
into enemy territory," Trump said.
engagement, Mike rescued those in distress without any
thought for his own safety," Trump said. "I will tell you,
the people with him could not believe what they were
witnessing. He crawled from one soldier to the next,
offering words of encouragement as he tended to their
Rose would repeat those selfless actions
throughout the four-day Operation Tailwind mission.
Rose was himself injured, Trump said. On the second day,
Rose was hit with a rocket-propelled grenade, which left
shrapnel in his back, and a hole in his foot.
the next 48 excruciating hours, he used a branch as a crutch
and went on rescuing the wounded," he said. "Mike did not
stop to eat, to sleep, or even to care for his own serious
injury as he saved the lives of his fellow soldiers."
On the fourth day in Laos, Rose and others boarded the
third of four helicopters that had been sent in to evacuate
participants of Operation Tailwind. So many troops had
boarded the first three helicopters that the fourth remained
empty. It seemed to be the end of the mission and a return
to safety. But it was not.
third helicopter was already damaged by enemy fire when it
picked up Rose and the remainder of the fighters, and it
took off with only one working engine. Shortly after lifting
off, its remaining engine failed, meaning the aircraft would
have to be "auto-rotated" to the ground.
On board was an
injured Marine door gunner who had been shot through the
neck and was bleeding profusely. As the helicopter pilots
attempted to safely land a helicopter with no power, Rose
tended to that young Marine's neck -- saving his life.
Ultimately, the helicopter crashed, and Rose yet again
proved his valor.
"Mike was thrown off the aircraft
before it hit the ground, but he raced back to the crash
site and pulled one man after another out of the smoking and
smoldering helicopter as it spewed jet fuel from its
ruptured tanks," Trump said.
At the conclusion of
Operation Tailwind, thanks to the efforts of Mike Rose, all
16 American soldiers were able to return home. All of them
had been injured. All but three of the Montagnards returned
During those four days in Laos, "Mike
treated an astounding 60 to 70 men," Trump said. And of the
mission, which proved to be a success, "their company
disrupted the enemy's continual resupply of weapons, saving
countless of additional American lives."
Medal of Honor
At the White House for the event were members of Rose's
family, including his wife, Margaret, his three children and
two grandchildren, and nine previous Medal of Honor
Also in attendance were 10 service
members who fought alongside Rose during the operation: Sgt.
Maj. Morris Adair, Sgt. Don Boudreau, 1st Sgt. Bernie
Bright, Capt. Pete Landon, Sgt. Jim Lucas, Lt. Col. Gene
McCarley, 1st Sgt. Denver Minton, Sgt. Keith Plancich, Spc.
5 Craig Schmidt, and Staff Sgt. Dave Young.
and all the service members who fought in the battle: You've
earned the eternal gratitude of the entire American nation,"
Trump said. "You faced down the evils of communism, you
defended our flag, and you showed the world the unbreakable
resolve of the American armed forces. Thank you. And thank
you very much."
After speaking, Trump placed the
Medal of Honor around Rose's neck.
Following the Medal of Honor ceremony, Rose said he
believed the medal he received was not only for him, but for
all those who served -- especially those who had fought in
combat but who had not been able to be recognized due to the
classified nature of their operations.
which I consider a collective medal, is for all of the men,
to include the Air Force and the Marines who helped us,"
Rose said. "This is our medal. We all earned it. And to a
great extent, it is for all the men who fought for those
seven years in MACSOG, and even further than that, for all
the Special Forces groups who fought and died in that war.
"In honor of all those individuals that went for so many
years, when the military didn't recognize the fact that
MACSOG even existed, and all of those men that fought --
this kind of brings it home. And now our story has been
told, and now with this award I am convinced that they have
been recognized for the great service they provided to this
country. Thank you and God bless the republic of the United
By C. Todd Lopez
Army News Service
Gary M. Rose's Medal of Honor >
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