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Award - Ronald A. Radcliffe


Distinguished Service Cross

DSCThe President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918 (amended by act of July 25, 1963), takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Captain (Infantry) Ronald A. Radcliffe (ASN: 0-16684966), United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force while serving as Pilot of a Light Observation Scout helicopter with Troop F, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Aviation Brigade, in the Republic of Vietnam, on 28 April 1972. Almost immediately upon take off from Quang Tri City, Captain Radcliffe's helicopter began to receive sporadic enemy automatic small arms fire that was to last throughout the mission. Because the North Vietnamese Army units dispersed themselves among large groups of fleeing civilians, much of the hostile fire could not be returned for fear of injuring civilians. Despite being unable to return the enemy fire, he volunteered to continue the mission. Observing tank tracks which led into a village, from which both gunships in Captain Radcliffe's flight were receiving automatic small arms fire, he followed the tracks into the village and discovered one Russian amphibious tank camouflaged with palm trees. He skillfully maneuvered his helicopter to a position where his door gunner could mark it with a smoke grenade. Gunships rolled in and destroyed the enemy tank with heat rockets. Returning to the tank for a damage assessment, he observed a second tank. Immediately turning his attention to the new target, he maneuvered his aircraft so that his crew chief could drop one white phosphorus grenade into the open hatch and one next to the outside of the tank. The interior of the enemy tank burst into flames completely destroying it. The second gunship in the flight began to take hits from intense ground fire. After radioing a distress call the gunship burst into flames, became inverted and crashed. With complete disregard for his own safety Captain Radcliffe flew to where the gunship had crashed. Arriving at the crash site, he noticed that while the pilot was dead and trapped inside the burning aircraft, the aircraft commander had been thrown clear and appeared to be alive. Despite receiving small arms fire from a wood line approximately twenty-five meters distant, he landed only twenty feet from the gunship. Noticing that his crew chief was having trouble carrying the critically wounded aircraft commander through the knee-deep mud, he hovered his aircraft to within ten feet of the burning aircraft and its exploding ordnance. At this point the heat was so intense it burned the hair on Captain Radcliffe's face. After his crew chief and the mortally wounded gunship aircraft commander were on board, he directed his crew chief in applying first aid in an effort to save the life of his comrade, while evacuating him to an aid station in Quang Tri. Captain Radcliffe's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest tradition of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.
General Orders: Department of the Army, General Orders No. 10 (April 2, 1975)

Action Date: 28-Apr-72

Service: Army

Rank: Captain

Company: Troop F

Regiment: 4th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Aviation Brigade