Retired Army Capt. Gary Michael "Mike" Rose received the Medal of Honor on Monday for his heroism during a secret mission into Laos that he promised never to discuss.
Rose said he sees his Medal of Honor as an honor not only for all of the men involved in Operation Tailwind, but also to the men and women who served in the Vietnam War.
"The ones that I know personally all returned home and continued on to serve this country in various capacities.... And I consider it a privilege to be counted among them," he said.
Rose is the 69th living recipient of the Medal of Honor for actions in the Vietnam War. Of the approximately 3500 medals awarded since the MoH was created in 1862, 258 have gone to those who served in Vietnam. That contrasts with 472 from World War II and 146 from the Korean War.
Gary Michael Rose receives the Distinguished Service Cross from Gen. Creighton Abrams, the U.S. commander in Vietnam, for heroism during Operation Tailwind.
The retired U.S. Army captain and 5th Special Forces medic is credited with risking his life on multiple occasions to treat about 70 wounded soldiers under enemy fire during Operation Tailwind. The daring mission was launched into Chavane, Laos, Sept. 11-14, 1970 and would not be declassified until June 1998.
As the recent PBS documentary reminded us, controversy over Vietnam roiled the country at the height of the war. Presidents Johnson and Nixon almost certainly wanted to avoid ceremonies at the White House, so many who served may not have received the recognition they deserved.
The Trump administration has stepped up its recognition of Vietnam-era heroism, but veterans from that era are starting to get old. Should the country step up and recognize more Vietnam heroes with the Medal of Honor? Sound off!