Bruce Crandall was recognized for his valor in the Ia Drang Valley of South Vietnam in Nov. 1965.
His story will come as a surprise, and the way he relays it will show you why he earned the Medal of Honor.
Crandall was a Master Aviator in the Army and his extensive career included two tours in the Vietnam War and leading more than 900 combat missions.
On Nov. 14, 1965, Crandall led the first major division operation of airmobile troops into Landing Zone X-Ray in Vietnam’s Ia Drang Valley. He and his wingman, MAJ Ed Freeman, evacuated 70 injured soldiers.
In one landing alone, three men on Crandall’s helicopter were killed and three others were injured.
Crandall also delivered essential ammunition to ground forces, and conducted all of these operations in an unarmed helicopter.
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Crandall was born in 1933, and grew up in Olympia, Wash. He graduated in 1951 and in 1953 he was drafted into the U.S. Army. He went through Engineer Officer Candidate School in Ft. Belvoir, VA, in 1954.
After completing fixed-wing and helicopter training conducted by the Air Force and Army, he was assigned to a mapping group based out of the Presidio of San Francisco, who at that time was the largest flying military aviation unit in the world, The U.S. Army stated.
While part of the 11th Air Assault Division, Bruce was a platoon commander who assisted in the development of air-assault strategies. Then, in 1965 he joined the Dominican Republic Expeditionary Force as a liaison to the 18th Airborne Corps, the Army said.
Then he started flying L-19 Birddogs and L-20 Beavers in Alaska. His very first international assignment was a two-year deployment as an instructor pilot flying YU-1 Otter, L-20 Beaver, L-19 Birddog and H-23 Raven aircraft in Tripoli, Libya, according to the U.S. Army.
He then flew all around Central and South America, while based in Panama, and Costa Rica.
Also in 1965 he was the commander for the 1st Cavalry Division’s Company A, 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion at An Khe, Vietnam leading an airborne unit that supported eight ground troops.
Crandall received the Aviation & Space Writers Helicopter Heroism Award In 1966, during “Operation Masher,” the largest search and destroy mission that had been carried out in the Vietnam War at that point. The award was for his efforts of rescuing 12 injured soldiers while under heavy enemy fire.
Lieutenant Colonel Crandall retired from the Army in 1977 after completing more assignments than can be counted. Throughout his career, Crandall received numerous awards, including the Medal of Honor, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, a Bronze Star, and a Purple Heart. President Bush awarded Crandall with the Medal of Honor in Feb. 2007