By Heike HasenauerFebruary 7, 2007
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Feb. 9, 2007) - The White House announced today that President Bush will present the Medal of Honor to Bruce P. Crandall in recognition of his actions at Landing Zone X-Ray during the Battle of Ia Drang, Vietnam, in November 1965.
Crandall will receive the medal during a Feb. 26 White House ceremony for repeatedly flying into a landing zone under intense enemy fire to rescue and resupply 1st Cavalry ground troops - even after the LZ had been closed.
"Due to policy at the time, medevac pilots weren't allowed to land on a landing zone until it was 'green' for a period of five minutes, meaning it wasn't being relentlessly attacked," Crandall said.
Then a major, Crandall decided to fly the medevac missions, and was joined by his friend of 10 years, then-Capt. Ed Freeman.
Witnesses said the actions taken by Crandall and Freeman on the first day of the battle, Nov. 14, kept the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, resupplied and reinforced, and gave wounded Soldiers a chance at life.
The two aviators flew 14 missions, encountering intense enemy fire to bring the much-needed aid and fly more than 70 casualties to safety. For his actions that day, Freeman was awarded the Medal of Honor in July 2001.
Retired Col. Ramon Nadal was an eyewitness and former company commander in the 1st Bn., 7th Cav. Regt. Of the pilots' bravery, he said: "Without their support, both by resupplying us with ammo and bringing the reinforcements, we might well have been over-run.
"X-Ray was not the only time Bruce did good things for A Co.," Nadal said. "Months later, in Bong San, he volunteered to evacuate some of my Soldiers from a nighttime battle in the middle of a Vietnamese village when no one else would fly into the tiny landing zone under enemy fire."
A grateful ground commander, retired Lt. Gen. Harold Moore, who was a lieutenant colonel leading the Ia Drang battle, said that without Crandall's "extraordinarily heroic effort" that day, "we on that field would have gone down."
In 1966 Crandall received the Aviation and Space Writers Helicopter Heroism Award for rescuing a dozen Soldiers from another battlefield under fire. In 1996 he was inducted into the Air Force's Gathering of Eagles, an association of aviation pioneers and distinguished flyers. In 2004 he was inducted into the Army Aviation Hall of Fame.
Crandall retired as a lieutenant colonel in 1977, and in civilian life served as city manager for Dunsmuir, Calif., and in other public works positions in Arizona. The package nominating him for the Medal of Honor was forwarded by Senator John McCain.
For more information on the Medal of Honor and Crandall, see www.army.mil/medalofhonor/crandall.
(Heike Hasenauer writes for "Soldiers" magazine.)