PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, California -- Two Army Cobra helicopter pilots from the Vietnam War received belated Silver Stars, the military's third highest citation for bravery, in a March 8 ceremony here.
Col. (Ret.) William Reeder Jr. and Chief Warrant Officer 4 (Ret.) Daniel Jones were presented the award by Congressman Sam Farr, California's 20th district, for their efforts on April 14, 1972, attacking enemy troops in dangerous conditions that were about to overrun a South Vietnamese airborne battalion.
Advising that battalion was U.S. Army Maj. John Duffy, the only American on the battlefield. When Duffy found out a few years ago that the pilots hadn't been recognized for their bravery, the now-retired Santa Cruz, California, resident reached out to Farr.
"These two men refueled and rearmed and returned to bring fire upon the advancing North Vietnamese," Duffy remembered at the ceremony. "They were flying those Cobras at the treetops and being fired on from a ridge above, as well as taking on ground fire from small arms and anti-aircraft positions."
The Cobra's barrage enable Duffy and 37 South Vietnamese survivors of the battalion's 437 troops to clear the area. On the run, Duffy called in air support from the Air Force who warned Duffy and the survivors to get 500 meters away. Less than an hour later the enemy force was buried under the bombing run.
Reeder Jr. and Jones were assigned to the 17th Aviation Group, 1st Aviation Brigade at the time.
Joining Duffy at the ceremony were two South Vietnamese officers that survived the battle, Lt. Col. Li Van Me and Maj. Hai Phuong Doan. Duffy's efforts during the engagement earned him the Distinguished Service Cross, the military's second highest citation for bravery.