44 years after a life-altering mission in Vietnam, Warrant Officer George Carlton Bloodworth has been awarded a Silver Star medal, the Army’s third highest decoration for valor. Bloodworth, a pilot of a reconnaissance helicopter, came under heavy fire on September 20, 1969, and both helicopters in his flight were shot down. He was wounded but managed to link up with the other downed crew and escape and evade to safety.
BALTIMORE (The Baltimore Sun) — It was the kind of mission that Warrant Officer George Carlton Bloodworth flew daily in Vietnam. But on Sept. 20, 1969, it went badly wrong.
Bloodworth was piloting the second of two scout helicopters on a reconnaissance mission over the Mekong Delta in South Vietnam, speeding 100 feet off the ground, when the lead helicopter was shot down. As he circled back to search for its two-man crew, his own helicopter was shot down, and he was hit by ground fire.
Still, he found the downed crew and helped lead the wounded pilot, the pilot’s crew chief and his own crew chief through withering fire to safety.
For his actions that day, Bloodworth was awarded the Silver Star, the military’s third-highest decoration for valor. But he never received the medal. Until Thursday.
Surrounded by family — two sons, a daughter and their families — Bloodworth, now 75, finally got his Silver Star. It was pinned onto his blazer by Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Clark, commander of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, during a brief ceremony at the Rockville office of Rep. Chris Van Hollen, a Maryland Democrat.
“Warrant Officer Bloodworth’s heroism and extraordinary devotion to duty resulted in saving three of his comrades from certain death or capture,” Van Hollen read from the 1970 award citation. “His actions are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit on himself, his unit and the United States Army.”
Bloodworth’s daughter, Brigitte Shoff, had seen the citation in her father’s house, and asked about the award. “I said, ‘My gosh, Dad. You never got your medal?’ ”
He doesn’t really know why not.
“Things were very chaotic in the latter years of Vietnam,” the career soldier said Thursday. “And you transfer several times, and then I retired.”