Congressional Medal of Honor Society

Stories of Sacrifice

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Vietnam War - U.S. Air Force

Gerald Orren Young

  • Rank: Captain (Highest Rank: Lieutenant Colonel)
  • Conflict/Era: Vietnam War
  • Unit/Command:
    37th Air Rescue Service,
    Da Nang Air Force Base, Vietnam
  • Military Service Branch: U.S. Air Force
  • Medal of Honor Action Date: November 9, 1967
  • Medal of Honor Action Place: Khesanh, Republic of Vietnam
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Capt. Young distinguished himself while serving as a helicopter rescue crew commander. Capt. Young was flying escort for another helicopter attempting the night rescue of an Army ground reconnaissance team in imminent danger of death or capture. Previous attempts had resulted in the loss of two helicopters to hostile ground fire. The endangered team was positioned on the side of a steep slope which required unusual airmanship on the part of Capt. Young to effect pickup. Heavy automatic weapons fire from the surrounding enemy severely damaged one rescue helicopter, but it was able to extract three of the team. The commander of this aircraft recommended to Capt. Young that further rescue attempts be abandoned because it was not possible to suppress the concentrated fire from enemy automatic weapons. With full knowledge of the danger involved, and the fact that supporting helicopter gunships were low on fuel and ordnance, Capt. Young hovered under intense fire until the remaining survivors were aboard. As he maneuvered the aircraft for takeoff, the enemy appeared at point-blank range and raked the aircraft with automatic-weapons fire. The aircraft crashed, inverted, and burst into flames. Capt. Young escaped through a window of the burning aircraft. Disregarding serious burns, Capt. Young aided one of the wounded men and attempted to lead the hostile forces away from his position. Later, despite intense pain from his burns, he declined to accept rescue because he had observed hostile forces setting up automatic-weapons positions to entrap any rescue aircraft. For more than 17 hours he evaded the enemy until rescue aircraft could be brought into the area. Through his extraordinary heroism, aggressiveness, and concern for his fellow man, Capt. Young reflected the highest credit upon himself, the U.S. Air Force, and the Armed Forces of his country.
Medal of Honor Recipient Gerald O. Young
Medal of Honor Recipient Gerald O. Young
Additional Details
  • Accredited to: Colorado Springs, El Paso County, Colorado
  • Awarded Posthumously: No
  • Presentation Date & Details: May 14, 1968
    The Pentagon (Inner Courtyard), Hall of Heroes, presented by Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson
  • Born: May 19, 1930, Chicago, Cook County, IL, United States
  • Died: June 6, 1990, Anacortes, WA, United States
  • Buried: Arlington National Cemetery (MH) (7-A-87), Arlington, VA, United States

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