On July 5, 2022, President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. will award the Medal of Honor to four U.S. Army Soldiers who fought in the Vietnam War: Staff Sergeant Edward N. Kaneshiro (posthumous), Specialist Five Dwight W. Birdwell, Specialist Five Dennis M. Fujii, and retired Major John J. Duffy.
Staff Sergeant Edward N. Kaneshiro will receive the Medal of Honor posthumously for acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving as an infantry squad leader with Troop C, 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division, near Phu Huu 2, Kim Son Valley, Republic of Vietnam, on Dec. 1, 1966. Staff Sergeant Kaneshiro and his team entered the village of Phu Huu 2 while on a search and destroy mission and were attacked by North Vietnamese. Staff Sergeant Kaneshiro destroyed one enemy group with rifle fire and two others with grenades, which enabled the orderly extrication and reorganization of the platoon and ultimately led to a successful withdrawal from the village. He served in Vietnam between July 18, 1966, until his death on March 6, 1967, as a result of a hostile gunshot wound.
Specialist Five Dwight W. Birdwell will receive the Medal of Honor for acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving with Troop C, 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry, 25th Infantry Division, in the Republic of Vietnam on January 31, 1968. That day, a large enemy element initiated an assault on the Tan Son Nhut Airbase near Saigon. They disabled or destroyed many of the unit’s vehicles and incapacitated Specialist Five Birdwell’s tank commander. Under heavy enemy small-arms fire, Specialist Five Birdwell moved the tank commander to safety and fired the tank’s weapons at the enemy force. Afterwards, he dismounted and continued fighting until receiving enemy fire to his face and torso. He refused evacuation and led a small group of defenders to disrupt the enemy assault until reinforcements arrived. He then aided in evacuating the wounded until he was ordered to seek attention for his own wounds. He was honorably discharged on December 29, 1968, and today practices law in Oklahoma City.
Specialist Five Dennis M. Fujii will receive the Medal of Honor for acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving as crew chief aboard a helicopter ambulance during rescue operations in Laos and the Republic of Vietnam from February 18 – 22, 1971. During a mission to evacuate seriously wounded Vietnamese military personnel, Specialist Five Fujii’s medevac helicopter took on enemy fire and was forced to crash land. Although injured, he waved off a rescue from another helicopter and remained behind as the only American on the battlefield. During that night and the next day, although wounded, he administered first aid to allied casualties. On the night of February 19, he called in American helicopter gunships to assist in repelling an enemy attack. For more than 17 hours, he repeatedly exposed himself to hostile fire as he left the security of his entrenchment to better observe enemy troop positions and to direct air strikes against them until an American helicopter could attempt to airlift him from the area. Upon completion of his tour, he joined the Army Reserve and today resides in Hawaii.
Major John J. Duffy will receive the Medal of Honor for 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, from April 14 – 15, 1972. Two days earlier, the commander of the 11th Airborne Battalion had been killed, the battalion command post destroyed, and Major Duffy was twice wounded. He refused to be evacuated. In the morning hours of April 14, after a failed effort to establish a landing zone for resupply aircraft, he moved close to enemy anti-aircraft positions to call in airstrikes and was wounded again, but still refused evacuation. In the late afternoon, the enemy began a ground assault from all sides, and Major Duffy moved from position to position to adjust fire, spot targets for artillery and direct gunship fire. In the early morning of April 15, after an enemy ambush, he led evacuees, many of whom were seriously wounded, to an evacuation area, where he directed gunship fire on enemy positions and marked a landing zone for the helicopters. Only after ensuring all evacuees were aboard, did he board as well, assisting a wounded friendly foreign soldier and administering aid to a wounded helicopter door gunner. Major Duffy’s service included three tours in Vietnam in a myriad of Special Forces assignments. He retired from the Army on May 31, 1977, and currently lives in Santa Cruz, California.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE MEDAL OF HONOR:
The Medal of Honor is awarded to members of the armed forces who distinguish themselves conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of their own lives above and beyond the call of duty while:
- engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States;
- engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or
- serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.
The meritorious conduct must involve great personal bravery or self-sacrifice so conspicuous as to clearly distinguish the individual above his or her comrades and must have involved risk of life. There must be incontestable proof of the performance of the meritorious conduct, and each recommendation for the award must be considered on the standard of extraordinary merit.