The Next MOH Recipient Plans To Accept Medal On Behalf Of Everyone Who Served In Laos During Vietnam

Leadership

Army medic Gary “Mike” Rose is a hero of the Vietnam War. Over nearly four days, he put his own life on the line countless times to administer medical treatment to dozens of soldiers engaged in a deadly diversion mission, and for 28 years, no one knew. Rose was a part of Operation Tailwind — a covert incursion meant to distract the enemy’s attention from a CIA offensive the United States conducted in September 1970.


On Oct. 23, Rose will travel to the White House to accept the military’s highest award — the Medal of Honor — he says, on behalf of all the Special Forces unit with whom he served.

"That medal, and the presidential unit citation, recognizes, finally, the service of all the men in all those years that served in MACSOG," Rose said in an Army news release. "It's a collective medal from my perspective. All the courage and honor and dedication to duty of those men who served. They went for 30 years not even being acknowledged."

Operation Tailwind, which launched on Sept. 11, 1970, and ran four days, was a operation mired in controversy. The mission was part of a secret war being fought against the Vietnamese in neighboring Laos; for decades, the Army denied it happened until CNN erroneously broke a story on June 7, 1998, about how the mission was meant to kill U.S. defectors in Laos.

Gary M. Rose promoted to the rank of Captain at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, on Dec. 19, 1977.Courtesy photo

Until recently, medal citations for the unit listed men only as “deep in enemy territory,” Neil Thorne, an Army veteran and researcher who has filed a number of valor award applications for Rose’s unit told The New York Times in 2016.

“The Army still doesn’t want to admit it,” Thorne added. “Even to this day, I put in Laos in a citation, the Army takes it out. It’s almost a game, but it’s not really funny. Rose is unique in that they finally left in the truth.”

Retired Lt. Col. Eugene McCarley, who served as Rose’s commander believes that Rose helped more than half of the 130 soldiers that participated in Operation Tailwind.

"He definitely saved the lives of two individuals that I know of personally,” McCarley told the Army news service. “The entire operation, Mike never slept or ate or rested. There were at least three or four occasions were we had a wounded man out in the area, away from the company area, and Mike went out and carried the wounded, and treated them on the spot, despite being fired upon the whole time.”

What really happened is that during those four days, helicopters dropped 136 soldiers — Vietnamese Montagnard fighters, members of the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam Studies and Observations Group (MACV-SOG), and Army Special Forces — into Laos to create mayhem and distract the enemy from a CIA mission in the north, according to The Times report.

"Our mission was, we were a diversionary force," McCarley said. "The CIA, along with a Laotian force, were in control of what they called the Bolaven Plateau. It is an enormous plateau up in Laos, with several airfields on it."

But the distraction proved both dangerous and deadly. At the time, Rose was 22 years old and the only medic in the bunch. By the end of the operation, “a third of the company was wounded,” according to New York Times. Rose’s role was absolutely critical.

"Your job is not to repair," he told the Army news service. "Your job is to ensure the person survives to be put on a helicopter so they can get to a facility that has proper skilled physicians and nurses that can begin to repair the damage done. Your job, as a medic, is to maintain the person's life. That is, to keep them out of shock, to stop the bleeding, and also as much as possible prevent infection if you could."


More details
Rose being helped from a helicopter after Operation Tailwind, 14 May 1970
US Army personnel - army.mil Photo courtesy of Ted Wicorek
U.S. Army Sgt. Gary M. Rose is helped from a helicopter landing area after Operation Tailwind, 1970.Wikimedia Commons



And for nearly four days, Rose did everything within his power to keep soldiers alive.

"People got hurt immediately," Rose said. "We hit the ground, and we were skirmishing from the first day. We started taking injuries. It was a running gun fight for four days."

And when Rose finally made it home, he had to keep his mission a secret. He surmises that nearly 2,000 names on the Vietnam Memorial belong to MACV-SOG soldiers who quietly sacrificed their lives 1965 and 1973.

U.S. Army photo
(U.S. Air Force/Airman 1st Class Aspen Reid)

Navy Airman Uriel Gerardo-Olivas wanted to hire a hitman to murder another sailor he says had threatened his life and the lives of his girlfriend and baby.

But, he had a problem.

He didn't have the money.

Read More Show Less
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Matt Herbst.

Search and rescue efforts have ended without locating a sailor from the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, who was reported overboard on Wednesday, Navy officials have announced.

Read More Show Less
ISIS

An American citizen who allegedly served as a sniper for ISIS and became a leader for the terrorist group is expected to appear in federal court on Friday after being returned to the United States by the Defense Department, officials said.

Ruslan Maratovich Asainov, who was born in Kazakhstan and became a naturalized U.S. citizen, is charged with providing and attempting to provide material support to ISIS, the Justice Department announced on Friday.

Read More Show Less
Members of the Iranian revolutionary guard march during a parade to commemorate the anniversary of the Iran-Iraq war (1980-88), in Tehran September 22, 2011. (Reuters photo)

LONDON/DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran's Revolutionary Guards said on Friday they had captured a British-flagged oil tanker in the Gulf after Britain seized an Iranian vessel earlier this month, further raising tensions along a vital international oil shipping route.

Britain said it was urgently seeking information about the Stena Impero after the tanker, which had been heading to a port in Saudi Arabia, suddenly changed course after passing through the Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Gulf.

Read More Show Less

U.S. military advisors could be taking a self-driving pack mule back to Afghanistan with them on their next deployment.

Read More Show Less