East Room

11:35 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, General.  Please be seated.  Please be seated.

Well, welcome to the White House.  You know, this is a day that I — I, quite frankly, think being President is inadequate because there are so many brave women and men in here and so many people we’re honoring today.

Mr. Secretary, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, senior military officers, thank you all for being here.

 Yesterday marked the 246th anniversary of this nation’s independence.  Two hundred and forty-six years of struggle and sacrifice to uphold the principles so dear to the character of our nation: liberty, democracy, the God-given rights of every individual. 

It’s a journey that has never finished, and it never will be fully finished.  It’s a work that requires us to look ahead to the future — the future we want to build — and to look carefully at our past to understand fully where we have come from. 

For each of those 246 years, American patriots have answered our nation’s call to military service.  They stood in the way of danger, risked everything — literally everything — to defend our nation and our values. 

However, not every service member has received the full recognition they deserve.  Today, we’re setting the record straight.  We’re upgrading the awards of four soldiers who performed acts of incredible heroism during the Vietnam conflict to respect the conspicuous gallantry and intrepidi- — how — and the intrepidability [sic] of their service.  I mean, it’s just astounding when you hear what each of them have done.

They went far above and beyond the call of duty.  It’s a phrase that I always use, but it’s — it just — it takes on life when you see these men.

To the late Staff Sergeant Edward N. Kaneshiro to Specialist Five Dwight W. Birdwell to Specialist Five Dennis M. Fujii and to Major John Duffy, I’m proud to finally award our highest military recognition, the Medal of Honor, to each of you — one posthumously. 

It has been a long journey to this day for those heroes and their families, and more than 50 years have passed — 50 years — since the jungles of Vietnam, where, as young men, these soldiers first proved their mettle. 

But time has not diminished their astonishing bravery, their selflessness in putting the lives of others ahead of their own, and the gratitude that we as a nation owe them. 

December 1, 1966.  Staff Sergeant Kaneshiro was an infantry squad leader.  His platoon was navigating toward what seemed to be a peaceful village.  It was an ambush. 

A vastly superior force of North Vietnamese troops was concealed within the village, protected by fortified bunkers, underground tunnels, and a big trench that ran through the entire village. 

As Staff Sergeant Kaneshiro led his squad to the east of the village, two other squads headed straight in, where the enemy opened fire on them with machine guns and small arms fire, killing the platoon leader, the point man, and pinning down the two squads. 

Hearing the battle unfold, Staff Sergeant Kaneshiro moved his squad toward the sound of the firing, where he quickly jumped into action. 

The machine-gun fire suppressing his platoonmates was coming from a big trench.  It had to be stopped. 

He ordered his men to take cover, and then he advanced alone toward the enemy position, armed with six grenades and his M-16. 

Lying flat on the ground, Staff Sergeant Kaneshiro hurled his first grenade.  It sailed directly through the aperture of the bunker, taking out the machine gunner on the first throw. 

He then jumped into the trench alone, moving along the trench for 35 mener- — 35 meters, clearing the enemy as he went, as he — as his head would emerge above the trench, as he yelled, “Grenade!”  And then his platoon would lose sight of him and ex- — and hear it explode. 

By the time he was done, the two other squads were able to stand up, collect their dead and injured, and recogni- — and reorganize to fight, and successfully withdraw from the village. 

According to the eyewitness’s account of the battle from Sergeant — Staff Sergeant Hask- — Haskett, Kaneshiro’s bravery in single-handedly clearing the trench averted what might have been, quote, “a disaster for the whole platoon.”

Born and raised in Hawaii, the son of Japanese immigrants, a proud husband and father of four, Staff Sergeant Kaneshiro continued his service with his unit in Vietnam until he was killed in action by hostile gunfire on March 6, 1967. 

Today, his memory lives on in the lives he saved, in the legend of his fearlessness, and in the hearts of the family he left behind. 

John, Naomi, Tom, thank you for being here today.  And thank you, too, for your sister Doris as well, who could not be with us. 

And, John, thank you for your military service.  Your family sacrificed so much for our country.  I know that no award can ever make up for the loss of your father, for not having him there as you grew up.  But I hope today you take some pride and comfort in knowing his valor is finally receiving the full recognition it has always deserved. 

January 31, 1968.  It was an opening assault that would come to be known as the Tet Offensive, a particularly bloody period of the Vietnam War. 

North Vietnam for- — North Vietnamese forces launched an attack on a strategically located airbase in Sai- — near Saigon.  The first American unit called to respond was that of Specialist Five Dwight Birdwell. 

Unknown to the approximately 100 men in C Troop, they were moving to be taking on a full regiment of Viet Cong, likely to be more than 1,000 strong. 

They arrived.  The troop engaged the Viet Cong forces.  Specialist Birdwell’s unit took the main brunt of the attack, with many tanks and vehicles disabled.

When his tank commander was hit and gravely wounded, Specialist Birdwell got him to a place of safety and then took command.  He knew his vehicle was on the first line of defense, so Birdwell stood in his commander’s hatch — at times half exposed; at times standing entirely out of the tank, fully exposed — laying down suppressive fire on the enemy. 

He used the tank’s cannon.  He used the tank’s machine gun.  He used his personal rifle.  He sustained fire, drove back the attackers, and created a place of relative safety for injured men behind the tank to take cover.  He provided battlefield updates to his commanders until the enemy shot the communication system right off of his helmet.

When he ran out of ammunition, he ran to retrieve an M-60 machine gun and ammo off the helicopter that had been downed in flight to keep firing on the enemy.  And even when that M-60 was hit by enemy fire, causing it to explode and send shrapnel into Birdwell’s face, chest, arms, and hands, he remained on the battlefield.

When he was ordered to load onto the Medevac helicopter, he complied — this I find amazing — only to crawl right back off the other side — (laughter) — and to keep on fighting.  That’s what you call “taking orders and causing trouble.”  (Laughter.)  God love you.

Only after reinforcements arrived and only after he helped treat the evacuees — his fellow wounded — did Specialist Birdwell agree to evacuate himself.

At the time, Birdwell received a Silver Star for his outstanding heroism on the battlefield.  It took decades for his commanding officer — then, General Glenn Otis — to realize Birdwell had not received the full honor he had earned.

But in retirement, General Otis made sure to correct the record and fully document Birdwell’s actions to make this day possible.

A member of the Cherokee Nation, Birdwell credits the Cherokee veterans who came before him and encouraged him to serve when he called.

And I might note, Native American communities — a larger percentage serve in the United States Armed Forces at a higher percentage rate than any other cohort in America — than any other cohort in America.

After leaving the Army, Birdwell continued to build a legacy of service in his community in Oklahoma.  He started his own law firm, served for 12 years on the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court, and he passed that legacy of service down to his daughter, Stephanie Birdwell, who is with him today and serves as the Director of the Office of Tribal Relations at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Specialist Five Birdwell, thank you.  Thank you, thank you.  And to your wife, Virginia, who I know wishes she could be here with you today, give her our love as well.

I’m grateful for all you’ve given to our country and that at long last — at long last, your story is being honored as it should have been always.

February 18, 1971.  Specialist Five Dennis Fu- — excuse me — Fujii, who was serving his second tour in Vietnam as a crew chief on a helicopter ambulance, conducting a rescue operation in Laos.  They were there to evacuate wounded allied Vietnamese military personnel.  But as their chopper attempted the land, it became the target, sustaining heavy damage that caused them to crash-land in the middle of the conflict.

When a second American helicopter managed to land nearby minutes later, it was able to evacuate all the downed crewmen, except Specialist Fujii.

Rather than risk the lives of his crewmates, Specialist Fujii waved off the helicopter, told them to depart, remaining behind as the only American on the battlefield.

Several attempts were made to rescue him before Specialist Fujii could find a radio and call off further attempts — call off further attempts.  It was too dangerous, he said.

He stayed behind, ignoring his own wounds, while helping tend to wounded Vietnamese allies on the field.

The next night, the enemy force renewed their assault on the allied lines with heavy artillery.  For more than 17 consecutive hours, Specialist Fujii called in American gunships to help repel the attack.

He repeatedly exposed himself to hostile fire in order to better observe enemy positions and direct airstrikes against them.

On the radio, his fellow Americans knew him as “Papa Whiskey” — clear-eyed, level-headed soldier, directing air strikes so precisely they were able to drive back the forces that had come within 15 to 20 meters of a friendly camp.

When an American helicopter was finally able to retrieve him, wounded and severely fatigued, two days after his air — his air ambulance had crashed, he ma- — he made it only about four kilometers before it crash-landed.

Specialist Fujii had to wait two more days for [at] another South Vietnamese base before he was able to leave the area and receive the medical assistance for his wounds.

Speaking to the press shortly after his experience, Specialist Fujii downplayed his own contributions and honored the skills of the allied Vietnamese troops he fought with, simply saying, and I quote, “I like my job.  I like to help other people who need help out there.”  It’s amazing.

Today, Specialist Five Fujii, we remember and we celebrate just how many people you helped.  And I want to thank you and your wife, Ray, who couldn’t be here with you today, and your brother, Edwin, for all your family has done for this nation.  We will forever honor your commitment to your crew, your allies, and to your country.

April 14, 1972.  The Battle of Fire Support Base Charlie.  A lone American on the base serving as a senior advisor to the Army of the Republic of Vietnam was Major John Duffy.  They called him “Dusty Cyanide.”  (Laughter.)  That was his call name.

Those days, leading up to April 14th, the battalion command post had been destroyed.  Major Duffy had already been twice wounded, refusing evacuation.  Efforts to resupply the base had failed, and FSB Charlie was surrounded by the battalion-sized element.

For hours, American gunships, guided by Dusty Cyanide, took airstrikes on enemy positions.  Major Duffy repeatedly exposed himself to danger in order to direct the gunships’ fire and keep the battalion from being overrun.  He even called in one strike “extreme danger close” to his own position in order to drive back an advancing attack.  And when he was wounded again, he again refused evacuation.

He worked side by side to organize the defense of the base with the Vietnamese commander, Major Me — Me Le, who is here today.  Major, where are you?  Major, thank you for being here.  Thank you for your service.  (Applause.)  It’s an honor to have you here.

When they finally had to abandon the base, Major Duffy volunteered to lead the rear squad and cover their retreat.  And when the withdrawing soldiers were ambushed early on April 15th, and many of the injured troops scattered, Major Duffy remained with those who were wounded, rallying them to make it to an established evacuation zone, despite being constantly pursued by the Viet Cong.

Upon reaching the exfiltration site, Major Duffy again made sure he was the last to board the helicopter.  And then finally, as the airship was ready to depart, one of his Vietnam al- — Vietnamese allies was shot in the foot, causing him to fall backwards out of the helicopter.  But Major Duffy caught him and dragged him back in on board with him, saving one more life along the way.

Major Duffy served in the Army until 1977, completing three tours in Vietnam, numerous Special Force assignments, and 20 years of faithful service to our country — after which he went on to a successful career as an author and was even nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for poetry.  He is the definition of a warrior poet, enduring devotion to those he served with and those who serve our nation still.

Thank you, Major Duffy, for all that you’ve inspired in others.

And as Commander in Chief, I know this is not only for those who wear the uniform of our nation who serve, it’s your families as well.  So, Mary, thank you for all that you sacrificed over the years as well.  And to Marcus and Judd, I want to emphasize what you already know: Your grandpa is a hero — flat-out, unadulterated hero.

We’re able to take these actions today to upgrade the awards and properly honor the duty and devotion of those soldiers, thanks — thanks to the individual dedication of those who served with them and because of a congressionally ordered review of the heroic action of Asian Americans, Native Americans, and Pacific Islanders who were awarded the Distinguished Service Cross during the Korean and Vietnam wars to make sure we properly honor the contributions of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders and their service they’ve made over the years.

We did a similar review of World War Two-era awards.  It resulted in 22 Medal of Honors being awarded to Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders service members who had previously been underrecognized, including a very close friend of mine — one of my closest friends and benefactors in the United States Senate: Danny Inouye, a United States Senator.

So I want to also thank the members of Congress who helped make this possible to ensure that the United States lives up to our promises that for those who give their best for our country, we’ll always, always give our best to you.

I also want to take a moment to recognize three other Medal of Honor recipients awarded for their heroic actions in Vietnam who are with us today. 

Walter Marm.  Walter, where are you?  There you go.  Stand.  Walter, thank you, pal.  (Applause.) 

And James McCloughan.  (Applause.)

And Brian Thacker.  (Applause.) 

Thank you for being here to help us recognize these newest honorees. 

And I want to also note that last week we lost a giant in this community.  Hershel Woody Williams passed away at the age of 98.  The last Medal of Honor recipient of World War Two, honored by President Harry Truman for his valor during the Battle of Iwo Jima, Woody Williams will soon lie in honor in the United States Capitol.  And his passing is a reminder of what so many Americans of our greatest generation sacrificed to preserve liberty, democracy, and for our nation and for the world.

Now it’s my great honor to ask for the citations to be read as we award the Medal of Honors to the late Staff Sergeant Edward N. Kaneshiro, Specialist Five Dwight D. [W.] Birdwell, Specialist Five Dennis M. — excuse me — Fujii, and Major — and Major John J. Duffy.

Thank you all, and may God protect our troops.  Thank you.  (Applause.) 

Can my staff come up. 

MILITARY AIDE:  John Kaneshiro, accepting on behalf of his father, Staff Sergeant Edward Kaneshiro. 

Attention to orders.  The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, March 3rd, 1863, has posthumously awarded in the name of Congress the Medal of Honor to Staff Sergeant Edward N. Kaneshiro, United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.

Staff Sergeant Edward Kaneshiro distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving as an Infantry Squad Leader with Troop C, First Squadron, 9th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division near Phu Huu 2, Kim Son Valley, Republic of Vietnam, on 1 December 1966. 

Not knowing that the village was heavily fortified with a fully bunkered and concealed trench system and garrisoned by the North Vietnamese troops and vastly superior forces, two squads of the platoon had deployed to its center while Staff Sergeant Kaneshiro and his squad scouted the more than open terrain to the east of the village.

Sensing the opportunity to ambush the infantry squads, the entrenched enemy force erupted with machine gun and small arms fire against the two squads at the center of the village, killing the platoon leader and the point man, wounding four others, then successfully suppressing the surviving soldiers.

Staff Sergeant Kaneshiro moved with his men to the sounds of the fire.  Swiftly reading the situation, seeing that the fire from the trench had to be stopped if anyone was to survive, he first deployed his men to cover, then crawled forward to attack the enemy force alone.  He began by throwing grenades from the parapet while flattened to the ground, successfully throwing the first grenade through the aperture of the bunker, eliminating the machine gunner who had opened the action.

With five grenades remaining and his rifle to sustain the assault, Staff Sergeant Kaneshiro jumped into the trench to sweep its length where it fronted the two pinned squads.  Over the distance of about 35 meters, he worked the ditch alone, destroying one enemy group with rifle fire and two others with grenades. 

By the end of his sweep, the able-bodied survivors of the two squads were again standing and preparing to move the dead and wounded.  Staff Sergeant Kaneshiro’s actions enabled the orderly extrication and reorganization of the platoon, which ultimately led to a successful withdrawal from the village.

Staff Sergeant Kaneshiro’s conspicuous gallantry and uncommon heroism under fire are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.

Signed Joseph R. Biden, the President of the United States.

(The Medal of Honor is presented.)  (Applause.)

Specialist Five Dwight W. Birdwell. 

Attention to orders.  The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, March 3, 1863, has awarded in the name of Congress the Medal of Honor to Specialist Five Dwight W. Birdwell, United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his own life above and beyond the call of duty.

Specialist Five Dwight W. Birdwell distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving with C Troop, Third Squadron, Fourth Cavalry, 25th Infantry Division in the Republic of Vietnam on 31 January, 1968.

On this date, C Troop was ordered to move south to help repel an enemy attack on Tan Son Nhut Airbase.  As the C Troop column of tanks and armored personnel carriers approached the West Gate of Tan Son Nhut Airbase, it became under intense enemy fire from a building at its right.

Unbeknown to C Troop, it had driven directly into an enemy force consisting of three battalions.  The column tried to push through the initial attack, but the lead tank, crippled by rocket-propelled grenade explosions, was blocking the way forward.  C Troop immediately came under heavy enemy fire from both sides of the road. 

Specialist Five Birdwell, upon seeing that his tank commander was wounded by enemy fire, immediately went to his aid.  Upon intense — under intense enemy fire, he lowered the injured tank commander to the ground and moved him to safety.

Specialist Five Birdwell then, with complete disregard for his own safety, mounted the tank and assumed the tank commander’s position.  Standing in the tank commander’s hatch with the upper half of his body exposed to heavy enemy fire, Specialist Five Birdwell used the enemy tank’s .50-caliber machine gun and 90-millimeter main gun to suppress the enemy attack.

With ammunition for the 90-millimeter main gun exhausted, he continued to fire the .50-caliber machine gun until it overheated.  At this point, Specialist Five Birdwell, rather than abandoning his position, continued to engage the enemy with his M -16 rifle, sometimes exposing his entire body to fire in order to engage the enemy from a better vantage point.

When a U.S. helicopter crashed nearby, Specialist Five Birdwell, under withering enemy fire, dismounted and moved to the helicopter where he retrieved two M-60 machine guns and ammunition.  After giving one M-60 and ammunition to a fellow soldier, he remounted his tank and used the other M-60 to again engage the enemy.

Specialist Five Birdwell continued to engage the enemy with complete disregard for his own safety until the M-60 he was firing was hit by enemy fire.  Specialist Five Birdwell — now wounded in the face, neck, chest, and arms — dismounted the tank but refused to be medically evacuated.  Instead, Specialist Five Birdwell, under enemy fire, rallied fellow soldiers to advance toward the front of the armored column, where they set up a defensive position by a large tree. 

From this position, he and the other soldiers engaged the enemy with M-16 fire and grenades.  As the enemy fire lessened, Specialist Five Birdwell gathered ammunition from disabled vehicles and helped wounded soldiers move to safer positions. His leadership and tenacity under fire inspired the other C Troop soldiers to continue fighting against the superior enemy force and directly contributed to the enemy’s ultimate defeat.

Specialist Five Birdwell’s extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army. 

Signed Joseph R. Biden, the President of the United States.

(The Medal of Honor is presented.)  (Applause.)

Specialist Five Dennis M. Fujii. 

Attention to orders.  The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, March 3, 1863, has awarded in the name of Congress the Medal of Honor to Specialist Five Dennis M. Fujii, United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his own life above and beyond the call of duty. 

Specialist Five Dennis M. Fujii distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity abo- — beyond the call of duty while serving as crew chief aboard a helicopter ambulance during the rescue operations in Laos, Republic of Vietnam, during the period of 18 to 22 February, 1971. 

Specialist Five Fujii was serving with the 237th Medical Detachment, 61st Medical Battalion, 67th Medical Group.  The team’s mission was to evacuate seriously wounded Vietnamese military personnel from the midst of a raging battlefield. 

The aircraft’s primary approach to the bullet-infested landing zone was thwarted by heavy volumes of enemy fire directed at the specialist’s helicopter.  As the pilot made a second landing attempt, the enemy concentrated a barrage of flak at the air ambulance, which damaged the craft and caused it to crash in the conflict area, injuring Specialist Five Fujii.

Moments later, another American helicopter successfully landed near the wreckage of the specialist’s airship and extracted all the downed crewmen except for Specialist Five Fujii, who was unable to board the helicopter due to intense enemy fire directed at him. 

Rather than further endanger the lives of his comrades aboard the second helicopter, Specialist Five Fujii waved the craft out of the combat area and remained behind as the only American on the battlefield.  Subsequent attempts to rescue the specialist were aborted due to the violent anti­-aircraft fire.

Specialist Five Fujii finally secured a radio and informed the aviators in the area that the landing zone was too hot for further evacuation attempts.

During the night and all through the next day, Specialist Five Fujii disregarded his own wounds as he administered first aid to the allied casualties.

On the night of 19 February, the allied perimeter — perimeter came under ruthless assault by a reinforced enemy regiment supported by heavy artillery.

Once again obtaining a radio transmitter, Specialist Five Fujii called in American helicopter gunships to assist the small unit in repelling the attack.

For a period of over 17 consecutive hours, Specialist Five Fujii repeatedly exposed himself to hostile fire as he left the security of his entrenchment to better observe enemy troop positions and to direct airstrikes against them.

At times, the fighting became so vicious that Specialist Five Fujii was forced to interrupt radio transmissions in order to place suppressive rifle fire on the enemy while at close quarters.

Though wounded and severely fatigued, by 20 February, the specialist bore the responsibility for the protection and defense of the enemy — excuse me — the friendly encampment until an American helicopter could land and attempt to airlift him from the area.

As his air ambulance left the battlefield, it received numerous hits and was forced to crash-land at another South Vietnamese Ranger base approximately four kilometers from the specialist’s original location.

The totally exhausted Specialist Five Fujii remained at the allied camp for two more days until yet another helicopter could return him to Phau Bai for medical assistance on 22 February.

Specialist Five Fujii’s extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty were in the keeping of the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army. 

Signed Joseph R. Biden, the President of the United States. 

(The Medal of Honor is presented.)  (Applause.)

Major John J. Duffy.

Attention to orders.  The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, March 3rd, 1863, has awarded in the name of Congress the Medal of Honor to Major John J. Duffy, United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.

Major John J. Duffy distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving as the Senior Advisor to the 11th Airborne Battalion, 2nd Brigade, Airborne Division, Army of the Republic of Vietnam in the Republic of Vietnam, during the period of 14 to 15 April 1972.

In the two days preceding the events of 14 to 15 April 1972, the commander of the 11th Airborne Battalion was killed, the battalion command post was destroyed, and Major Duffy was twice wounded but refused to be evacuated.  Then on 14 April, Major Duffy directed the defense of Fire Support Base Charlie, which was surrounded by a battalion-size enemy element.

In the morning hours, after a failed effort to establish a landing zone for resupply aircraft, he moved close to the enemy anti-aircraft positions to call in airstrikes.

At this time, Major Duffy was again wounded by fragments from a recoilless rifle round and again refused medical evacuation.

Shortly thereafter, the enemy began an artillery bombardment on the base, and he remained in an exposed position to direct gunships onto enemy positions which eventually silenced the enemy fire.

Following the bombardment, Major Duffy assessed the conditions on the base and personally ensured the wounded friendly foreign soldiers were moved to positions of relative safety and the remaining ammunition was appropriately distributed to the remaining defenders.

Shortly thereafter, the enemy resumed indirect fire on the base, expending an estimated 300 rounds.  Nevertheless, he remained in an exposed position to direct gunship fire on the enemy positions. 

In the late afternoon hours, the enemy began a ground assault from all sides of the firebase, and Major Duffy moved from position to position to adjust fire, spot targets for artillery observers, and ultimately to direct gunship fire on a friendly position which had been compromised.

As the evening wore on, it became clear that the defenders could not withstand the overwhelming enemy forces, and he began to organize an evacuation of the firebase under the cover of night.

With the goal — with the goal of a complete withdrawal, Major Duffy was the last man off base, remaining behind to adjust covering fire from gunships until the last possible moment.

When the acting battalion commander was wounded, he assumed command of the evacuation and maintained communication with the available air support direct — to direct enemy — fire on the enemy.

In the early morning hours of 15 April, the enemy ambushed the Battalion, inflicting additional casualties and scattering some of the able-bodied soldiers.  Major Duffy organized defensive positions during the ambush and ensured the friendly foreign forces could successfully repulse the enemy.

After withstanding the ambush, he led the evacuees, many of whom were significantly wounded, to an established evacuation area, despite continually pursued — being pursued by the enemy.

Upon reaching the exfiltration site, Major Duffy directed gunship fire on the enemy positions and marked a landing zone for the helicopters.  Only after ensuring all of the evacuees were on board did Major Duffy board while also assisting a wounded friendly foreign soldier in with him.

Once on board, he administered aid to a helicopter door gunner who had been wounded during the evacuation.  Major Duffy’s extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.

Signed Joseph R. Biden, President of the United States.

(The Medal of Honor is presented.)  (Applause.)

(A prayer is recited.)

THE PRESIDENT:  I think we’re dismissed.  (Laughter.)  It’s a great honor.  Thank you all so very much.  (Applause.) 

Q    Mr. President, do you plan to go to Highland Park, sir?  Do you and the First Lady plan to visit Chicago?

THE PRESIDENT:  I’m not sure yet.

12:13 P.M. EDT

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