Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Col. Bruce Crandall will be at UT on November 14 to share his story of heroism with faculty, staff, and students. Crandall flew 900 combat missions in Vietnam and helped evacuate many wounded troopers before he was severely wounded himself.
The event celebrates Veterans Day, which is Sunday, November 11, and also serves as a prelude to the 2014 Congressional Medal of Honor Convention, which will be held in Knoxville.
Crandall’s presentation will begin at 10:00 a.m. in the Carolyn P. Brown University Center Ballroom. The Division of Student Life and the Task Force in Support of Student Veterans have issued a special invitation to UT veterans, reservists, and members of the ROTC.
Crandall, a high school All-American from Olympia, Washington, found his baseball career cut short when he was drafted into the Army in 1953. He served in combat engineer units and flew missions so areas could be mapped in the Artic, Libya, and Central and South America. He also helped develop air assault tactics used in Vietnam.
On November 14, 1965, Crandall’s flight of sixteen helicopters was lifting troops into the Landing Zone X-Ray, near the Cambodian border. It became the first major battle with a large North Vietnamese force and was memorialized in the New York Times–bestselling book We Were Soldiers Once … And Young by Lt. Harold G. Moore and war journalist Joseph L. Galloway. That book was the basis for the film We Were Soldiers.
Crandall’s helicopters came under intense fire, and many of those aboard were wounded or killed. The infantry commander closed the landing zone to further helicopter operations. But recognizing that the Americans were taking heavy casualties and desperately needed ammunition, Crandall returned to the fray with Capt. Ed “Too Tall” Freeman, also a Medal of Honor recipient, in another helicopter.
In the first fourteen hours of the three-day battle, Crandall made twenty-two flights in his unarmed helicopter. He often saw North Vietnamese soldiers just beyond his rotor blades and had only minutes to rescue badly wounded troops. Crandall and Freeman evacuated more than seventy wounded and delivered badly needed ammunition and supplies.
Crandall flew 900 combat missions in Vietnam, including two 1966 missions to evacuate twelve badly wounded troopers at night under intense fire. Crandall was severely wounded during a 1968 rescue attempt.
Crandall received the Medal of Honor, our nation’s highest military decoration, on February 26, 2007, from President George W. Bush.
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