Vietnam Special Forces Veteran to Receive Medal of Honor

gary rose

By Debbie Gregory.

As Director of Employer Engagement for California Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), I had the pleasure of meeting Retired Army Capt. Gary “Mike” Rose at a September ESGR event.

Rose, a Vietnam veteran, will receive the Medal of Honor on October 23rd.

In 1967, Rose decided to volunteer for the Army.  Thanks to high aptitude test scores, jump school and Special Forces training followed, and by October 1968, he was a Special Forces medic.

In 1970, Rose, a Green Beret, participated in Operation Tailwind, a classified mission in support of the Royal Lao Army, creating a diversion aimed at North Vietnamese Army troops.

While serving as a medic with Military Assistance Command, Vietnam — Studies and Observations Group, 5th Special Forces Group, Rose “repeatedly ran into the line of enemy fire to provide critical aid to his comrades, using his own body on one occasion to shield a wounded American from harm,” according to the White House.

Despite being wounded on the final day of the mission, Rose helped move wounded personnel to a helicopter extraction point.

“As he boarded the final extraction helicopter, intense enemy fire hit the helicopter, causing it to crash shortly after takeoff,” according to the White House. “Again, ignoring his own injuries, Sergeant Rose pulled the helicopter crew and members of his unit from the burning wreckage and provided medical aid until another extraction helicopter arrived.”

Over the four-day battle, Rose is credited with treating between 60 and 70 wounded troops, saving numerous lives.

Rose has asked the White House to include his fellow MACV-SOG veterans in the ceremony, as well as the Marines and Air Force personnel who supported the mission, particularly the A-1E Skyraider and AH-1 Cobra pilots who were there.

“To me, this medal is a collective medal, and it honors all those men who fought.”

In spite of the fact that Rose has only just taken up playing golf in the last few years, he is no stranger to hitting a hole in one.   I suggested he might consider buying a lottery ticket.

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From Media Scandal to Medal Of Honor?

gary michael

By Debbie Gregory.

The Medal of Honor could be the final vindication in the battle to clear the name and reputation of a Green Beret soldier who served in Vietnam 47 years ago.

In September, 1970, Green Beret Gary Michael Rose was the lone medic for a company of Special Forces soldiers and indigenous Vietnamese fighters, called Montagnards,  in Laos. Rose, who himself was badly injured, helped bring all the soldiers back alive. He received the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation’s second highest military honor, during a ceremony at the time in Vietnam.

But in 1998, Rose and the other men of Operation Tailwind were wrongly accused of taking part in war crimes.

Stunning claims were alleged that the Green Berets were sent to Laos to kill American defectors and that the military used sarin gas during the mission. The charges were fully discredited.

The story, which was co-written and presented by famed journalist Peter Arnett, was retracted by CNN and Time. But you can’t un-ring a bell. The retraction never erased the allegations in the view of soldiers who conducted Operation Tailwind.

The highest recognition of heroism is close for Rose. In Congress’s final version of its annual defense policy bill is legislation that clears the way for Rose to receive the Medal of Honor. While lawmakers remain deeply divided on many defense and veteran issues, there is agreement that the Green Beret medic should have his Distinguished Service Cross upgraded.

In September 1970, Rose, 15 Green Berets and their company of Montagnards were on a classified mission to take pressure off the CIA, which was running operations in the Laotian highlands, by drawing the attention of at least two North Vietnamese Army regiments in the area, according to retired Maj. John Plaster, a former Special Forces sniper and military historian who served with Rose in the Studies and Observations Group.

Rose and his unit, backed by U.S. air power, almost never stopped moving for the next four days while taking small arms, mortar and rocket fire.  By the second day, about half of the Green Berets were wounded. Many more of the Montagnards had injuries. By the fourth day, all of the American had been wounded.

Plaster said, “Gary kept them moving, it was emergency medicine on the go. Think of how many people could have put up with that much stress and stay organized and cool and treat all of those people.”

Rose was wounded multiple times and had treated about 60 injured troops. The Marines had lost three Sea Stallions. But all of the soldiers had survived.

Rose’s lifesaving actions on the battlefield will become the new face of Operation Tailwind and turn a national media spotlight on the missionl.


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