A Company, 1, 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile)
Lt. Col. Bruce P. Crandall will receive the Medal of Honor during a White House ceremony February 26, 2007 for his heroic actions in the Battle of Ia Drang.
Spouse: Arlene Crandall of Kent, Washington
Children: R. Donovan; Steven; Michael
Hometown: Olympia, WA
Education: BA University of Nebraska, 1969; MPA Golden Gate University, 1977
Drafted: U.S. Army, 1953
Commissioned: Engineer Officer Candidate School, Ft. Belvoir, VA, 1954
Deployments: Dominican Republic Expeditionary Force; two tours of Vietnam
Aircraft: U-1 Otter fixed wing; L-20 Beaver fixed wing; L-19 Birddog fixed wing; H-23 Raven "couldn't get off the ground on a hot day"; H-13; H-19; UH-1 Huey "best helicopter ever built"
Biography: Retired Lt. Col. Crandall is a veteran Master Army Aviator in both fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters. He led over 900 combat missions during two tours in Vietnam.
Born in 1933, Crandall grew up in Olympia, Wash., where he played baseball and became a high school All American. He was drafted into the Army in 1953.
After commissioning and graduation from 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 "that at the time was the largest flying military aviation unit in the world. " From there he went to fly L-19 Birddogs and L-20 Beavers in Alaska, again for topographic studies.
Crandall's first overseas flying assignment was to Wheelus AFB in Tripoli, Libya, mapping the desert for two years flying YU-1 Otter, L-20 Beaver, L-19 Birddog and H-23 Raven aircraft as an instructor pilot and unit test pilot.
His next overseas tours were flying over thousands of square miles of previously unmapped mountains and jungles in Central and South America. For this mission, he was based out of Howard AFB, Panama, and Costa Rica. While assigned to the 11th Air Assault Division, Crandall helped develop air-assault tactics as a platoon commander. In early 1965, he joined the Dominican Republic Expeditionary Force as a liaison to the 18th Airborne Corps.
Later that year, he would command the 1st Cavalry Division's Company A, 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion at An Khe, Vietnam. Using the call sign "Ancient Serpent 6," he led a flying unit supporting eight battalions on the ground.
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 and is credited with evacuating some 70 wounded comrades with his wing man and fellow Medal of Honor recipient MAJ Ed Freeman. The two also flew in the ammunition needed for the 1/7th CAV (Custer's old battalion) to survive. The craft he was flying was unarmed.
In January 1966, during the first combined American and South Vietnamese Army operation, "Operation Masher," Crandall, while under intense enemy fire and with only a spot flashlight beam to guide him , twice dropped his Huey helicopter through the dense jungle canopy to rescue 12 wounded Soldiers. For his courage in that incident Crandall received the Aviation & Space Writers Helicopter Heroism Award for 1966.
After an assignment in Colorado, he attended the Armed Forces Staff College. Soon he was back in Vietnam, this time flying Huey gunships - "a big improvement" -- supporting the 1st Bn., 9th Cavalry Squadron, 1st CAV Div.
In January 1968, four months into his second tour, Crandall's helicopter was downed during another rescue attempt - Air Force bombs going off too close to where he was flying. After five months in the hospital, with a broken back and other injuries, he resumed his career as a student earning a bootstrap degree through the University of Nebraska in 1969. In Bangkok, Thailand, he would become a Facility Engineer managing 3,800 people. He subsequently served as deputy chief of staff, deputy installation commander, and commander of the 5th Engineer Combat Bn., all at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.
South America was supposed to be his next assignment, and he and Arlene attended the Defense Language Institute, Monterey, CA. as Spanish language students in preparation for an Aviation and Engineering advisor to Argentina - an assignment that never came. A stroke sidelined Crandall, ending his flying career. After his recovery, the Crandalls did find the language training useful when he was sent to Caracas, Venezuela, as the Defense Mapping Agency's director for the Interamerican Geodetic Survey.
In his final Army assignment, he served as senior engineer advisor to the California Army National Guard.
Crandall retired from the Army in 1977 as a lieutenant colonel. Utilizing his master's degree in public administration, Crandall became city manager of Dunsmuir, Calif., for three years.
He and his wife, Arlene, then moved to Mesa, Ariz., where he served in the Public Works Department for 13 years, the last four as the public works manager.
In 1994, Crandall was inducted into the Air Force's "Gathering of Eagles" - an organization set up to recognize pioneers of aviation and heroic flyers.
In 2001, Crandall was an aviation consultant on a movie about the Ia Drang Valley battle. The movie, based on the book "We Were Soldiers Once... and Young" was released in 2002. In 2004, Crandall was inducted into the Army Aviation Hall of Fame.
He and Arlene, married in 1956, have three sons and five grandchildren. The Crandalls live in Manchester, Wash.
Awards: Distinguished Service Cross (to be upgraded to Medal of Honor); Distinguished Flying Cross with one oak leaf cluster; Bronze Star Medal; Meritorious Service Medal; Air Medal (24 awards); Army Commendation Medal; Purple Heart; National Defense Service Medal with one oak leaf cluster; Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal; Vietnam Service Medal (four campaigns); Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with 60 device; Presidential Unit Citation; Meritorious Unit Citation; Master Army Aviator Badge; Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Gold Star (three awards) and the Armed Forces Reserve Medal.
Assignments: Infantry Basic; Engineering Amphibious Training; Leadership School; Engineer Officer Candidate School; fixed wing flight training at Gary AFB, TX; 1st graduating class of advanced flight school at Camp Rucker, AL; 30th Topographic Group, Presidio of San Francisco; 30th Topographic Group, Arctic Slope; Helicopter School, Gary AFB, TX; Advanced Helicopter Training, Camp Rucker, AL; 30th Topo Gp at Presidio of San Francisco; Wheelus AFB, Libya; 4th Eng Battalion, 4th Infantry Division at Ft. Lewis, WA; Engineer Advanced Course at Ft. Belvoir; back to 4th Engineer Battalion; Interamerican Geodetic Survey at Howard AFB, Panama; Interamerican Geodetic Survey at Costa Rica; 11th Air Assault Division platoon commander helping develop Army's new "airmobility" concept; 18th ABN Corps liaison for air assault in the Dominican Republic Expeditionary Force; Company Commander of A Company of the 229th as the 11th Air Assault Division (Test) became the 1st CAV (Airmobile), Ft. Benning, GA; 229th at An Khe, Vietnam, in support of eight battalions; Commander of Special Troops at Ft. Carson, CO; Armed Forces Staff College, Norfolk, VA; HQ 1st CAV at An Khe; 1/9 CAV at An Khe; University of Nebraska; Bangkok, Thailand as a Facility Engineer; Deputy Chief of Staff for Ft. Leonard Wood, MO; Commander, 5th Engineer Battalion also at Ft. Leonard Wood; Defense Language Institute, Monterey, CA. for Spanish language training in preparation for an Argentine Aviation and Engineering advisor assignment that wasn't to be (a stroke sidelined him and ended his flying career); after recovery he went to Caracas, Venezuela, as the Defense Mapping Agency's director for the Interamerican Geodetic Survey.