During 2019, Freedoms Foundation and the Friends of the Medal of Honor Grove are paying tribute to the living recipients of the Medal of Honor on the anniversary of the actions for which they earned the nation’s highest award for valor.
The series continues with combat medic Gary Michael Rose, who served with the Special Forces’ Military Assistance Command Studies and Observations Group (MACSOG) during a mission called “Operation Tailwind.” The operation, which was classified for many years, was designed to prevent the North Vietnamese from funneling weapons through Laos. It was there, from Sept. 11-14, 1970, that Rose took the actions that earned him the Medal of Honor.
Gary M. Rose’s Medal of Honor citation reads:
“Sergeant Gary Michael Rose distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a Special Forces Medic with a company sized exploitation force, 5th Special Forces Group, 1st Special Forces.
“Between 11 and 14 September 1970, Sergeant Rose’s company was continuously engaged by a well-armed and numerically superior hostile force deep in enemy-controlled territory. Enemy B-40 rockets and mortar rounds rained down while the adversary sprayed the area with small arms and machine gun fire, wounding many and forcing everyone to seek cover.
“Sergeant Rose, braving the hail of bullets, sprinted 50 meters to a wounded soldier’s side. He then used his own body to protect the casualty from further injury while treating his wounds. After stabilizing the casualty, Sergeant Rose carried him through the bullet-ridden combat zone to protective cover.
“As the enemy accelerated the attack, Sergeant Rose continuously exposed himself to intense fire as he fearlessly moved from casualty to casualty, administering life-saving aid. A B-40 rocket impacted just meters from Sergeant Rose, knocking him from his feet and injuring his head, hand, and foot. Ignoring his wounds, Sergeant Rose struggled to his feet and continued to render aid to the other injured soldiers.
“During an attempted medevac, Sergeant Rose again exposed himself to enemy fire as he attempted to hoist wounded personnel up to the hovering helicopter, which was unable to land due to unsuitable terrain. The medevac mission was aborted due to intense enemy fire and the helicopter crashed a few miles away due to the enemy fire sustained during the attempted extraction.
“Over the next two days, Sergeant Rose continued to expose himself to enemy fire in order to treat the wounded, estimated to be half of the company’s personnel.
“On September 14, during the company’s eventual helicopter extraction, the enemy launched a full-scale offensive. Sergeant Rose, after loading wounded personnel on the first set of extraction helicopters, returned to the outer perimeter under enemy fire, carrying friendly casualties and moving wounded personnel to more secure positions until they could be evacuated. He then returned to the perimeter to help repel the enemy until the final extraction helicopter arrived.
“As the final helicopter was loaded, the enemy began to overrun the company’s position, and the helicopter’s Marine door gunner was shot in the neck. Sergeant Rose instantly administered critical medical treatment onboard the helicopter, saving the Marine’s life.
“The helicopter carrying Sergeant Rose crashed several hundred meters from the evacuation point, further injuring Sergeant Rose and the personnel on board. Despite his numerous wounds from the past three days, Sergeant Rose continued to pull and carry unconscious and wounded personnel out of the burning wreckage and continued to administer aid to the wounded until another extraction helicopter arrived.
“Sergeant Rose’s extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty were critical to saving numerous lives over that four day time period. His actions are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, the 1st Special Forces, and the United States Army.”
After receiving the Medal of Honor during a White House ceremony on Oct. 23, 2017, Rose said:
“This award, which I consider a collective medal, is for all of the men, to include the Air Force and the Marines who helped us. 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 States.”
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