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Vietnam: Helicopters

President Trump gives Medal of Honor to a Vietnam War Army medic

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Updated October 23, 2017 03:26 PM EDT

Gary Rose, a 69-year-old Army veteran, will receive the Medal of Honor from President Trump on Monday for what may be one of the most incredible stories of a soldier going above and beyond the call of duty.

Rose served as a medic with the 5th Special Forces Group -- one of the Army's most elite units -- during the Vietnam War. He is directly responsible for treating dozens of personnel in September 1970 during Operation Tailwind, a covert mission in Vietnam's neighbor, Laos. After his unit made contact with the enemy, Rose repeatedly put himself at risk to treat wounded personnel, despite suffering wounds himself.

The fighting would continue for several days and became so intense that Rose had to crawl on his belly to get to the wounded while also directing his southern Vietnamese allies. At one point, Rose subjected himself to enemy fire outside his unit's defensive perimeter to retrieve a wounded soldier. He was injured by shrapnel from a rocket-propelled grenade, forcing him to continue to fight and treat his colleagues while using a stick to walk. When a rescue helicopter came to evacuate the wounded, Rose once again put himself at risk by exposing himself to enemy fire while trying to hand the wounded to the helicopter's crew. The pilot unfortunately had to abort the mission prematurely due to the heavy fire, and was eventually shot down.

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Rose dug tunnels and cared for the wounded as the North Vietnamese Army continued to reign down artillery and rocket fire on his position. When more helicopters showed up to retrieve his company, Rose went to the front of the line to fight off the enemy and was on the last helicopter to leave. As the chopper attempted to escape, it was shot down, throwing Rose to the ground. Sensing it was likely to explode, Rose pulled the crew from the wreckage. He kept treating the wounded crew members until help arrived.

Rose's remarkable actions earned him a Medal of Honor nomination at the time, but he was instead given the Distinguished Service Cross. The U.S. involvement in Laos was considered controversial at the time, and the classified nature of the mission further complicated matters.

Rose would spend 20 years in the military, retiring in 1987 with the rank of captain. He now resides in Huntsville, Alabama.

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