By Sgt. M. Benjamin GableApril 23, 2009
HUMPHREYS GARRISON - Medal of Honor recipient Lt. Col. Bruce P. "Snake" Crandall, a twenty-four year veteran of the Army, spoke with 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade officers and Family Members during an officer professional development course at Tommy D.'s lounge here April 16.
Crandall spoke to the officers and pilots in attendance about his experiences during the Vietnam War and their relevance today. He also spoke about the movie, "We Were Soldiers" that portrayed his actions in Vietnam. He ended his speech by encouraging pilots to be prepared always for whatever adversities they may face.
"The pilots of today are the best at what they do," said Crandall. "We were the pioneers; but now they are so well trained and they are capable of handling any circumstances that might come their way."
More than 40 years after his heroism during the Vietnam War - when he repeatedly risked his life by landing his helicopter in Landing Zone X-Ray during the first major battle between the U.S. and North Vietnamese armies - his message to today's officers and pilots is still relevant.
2nd Lt. Steven Modugno, a chemical officer with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion 2nd General Support Aviation Brigade, said he learned important lessons just by listening to Crandall's experiences.
"It's easy to become caught up in the day-to-day duties as an officer," said Modugno. "But what [Crandall] spoke about today could easily be what we face tomorrow."
Crandall also noted the importance of recognizing noncommissioned officers during the Year of the NCO.
"They are the core of effective leadership," he said. "No matter how good the commander is, you must have good NCOs or the mission can't be accomplished."
After Crandall finished speaking to the more than one-hundred fifty officers and Family Members in attendance, he joined 2nd CAB Commander, Col. Joseph A. Bassani, Jr., in awarding eleven pilots the Army Aviation Association of America's Honorable Order of St. Michael award.
Crandall was drafted into the Army in 1953. His first war-time military mission was as commander of Company A, 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion, at An Khe, Vietnam. In 1965, he led the pilots who flew airmobile troops into LZ X-Ray and was credited with evacuating more than seventy wounded Soldiers.
Despite relentless enemy fire on the landing zone, Crandall flew 22 missions during the day and into the evening, delivering ammunition and evacuating seriously wounded Soldiers.
In recognition of Crandall's acts of heroism during the assault, former President George W. Bush presented Crandall with the Medal of Honor during a ceremony at the White House, February 26, 2007. During the ceremony Crandall said he wanted to be drafted by Yankees, but was instead drafted by the Army.
He has also been inducted as the honorary Colonel of 2nd Aviation Regiment.
Editor's note: For more information about Bruce Crandall's actions in Vietnam that led to his Medal of Honor visit: http://www.army.mil/medalofhonor/crandall/citation/index.html.