Skip to comments.40 years later, helicopter pilot awarded Silver Star
Posted on 01/24/2006 7:14:01 PM PST by mdittmar
HANAU, Germany Dressed in his Class A uniform, a suit he bought in Hong Kong in 1969, the veteran helicopter pilot looked fit enough to climb back into the cockpit for another run.
It fits OK, said retired Chief Warrant Officer 4 Walter Schramm. I didnt have to do any alterations.
At the behest of the Army, Schramm returned Tuesday to one of his old stomping grounds, Fliegerhorst Casern in Hanau. Forty years after he led an effort to airlift critically wounded soldiers from a volatile valley in the Bong Son Mountains of Vietnam, the Army formally awarded Schramm the Silver Star.
Its not every day a servicemember past or present receives the U.S. militarys third-highest medal for valor, so the 4th Brigade conference room was packed with scores of people.
Its good the Army was able to review his citation and upgrade it, said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Leonard Momeny, a Black Hawk helicopter pilot.
Schramm, 75, was initially awarded an Air Medal with valor for his role in the Feb. 17, 1966, effort to evacuate nearly 20 soldiers from a small, deep valley ringed by the Bong Son Mountains in what was then South Vietnam. He was later informed that his award was going to be upgraded to a Silver Star, but, as is sometimes the case, recollections recede, records stack up and new issues overtake old ones.
Last November, while in Washington, D.C., for an annual Veterans Day dinner, Schramm, who now lives in Coburg, Germany, learned that he would be receiving the Silver Star after all.
I accept this honor with pride, Schramm said at Tuesdays ceremony, not only for myself, but for the crewmembers who flew with me that day.
February in Vietnam is a transitional month, with the winter-spring rice crop nearing maturity and temperatures on the rise. On the day Schramm and a second helicopter daringly evacuated critically wounded soldiers the slightly overcast sky was punctuated by beams of sunshine.
To the wounded troops on the ground, the sight of Schramms UH-1D Huey helicopter landing must have seemed like some divine deliverance.
There definitely is a bond between people who face death together, Schramm said after the ceremony. You cant duplicate that in civilian life.
Schramm and his two-ship crew flew in to pick up the wounded after delivering much-needed supplies a short distance away. His men werent tasked to evacuate the wounded, but they couldnt help themselves. They had to do it, and Schramm did it twice.
The presidential citation noted that the landing zone was insecure due to intense and accurate hostile sniper action from North Vietnamese soldiers.
On several occasions Tuesday, Schramm credited his crew and the thousands of other servicemembers, whether on the ground, in the air or at sea, who perform heroically, but dont always get recognized.
The real award is the accomplishment of what you did, he said. This conviction inside of you [to aid your fellow servicemember] is reward enough.
That is a cool bump.
And let us all stand smartly at attention and salute this brave soldier for a job very well done.
75 y.o. Huey pilot.
Silver Star Awarded 40 years late.
(I bet the troopers he evacd that day recognize him every day in thankful prayer.)
Thanks for the ping, Cannoneer. Those Vietnam era helicopter pilots were my inspiration to become an Army Aviator. They were real innovators, heroic, crazy and had to be damned good pilots to have a chance to survive in the environment they flew and fought in. I'm damned proud of 'em. They are the legacy of modern Army Aviation and we are still learning from them (and re-applying their battle proven tactics now as well to devastating effect).
1966 Bong Son Pictures:
(3rd & 4th Pictures down)
Signed:.."ALOHA RONNIE" Guyer
Veteran-Battle of BONG SON-1966
Crazy? Talk about understatement.
The first time I got into a chopper the right seat pilot had "Xin Loi Charlie" on the back of his helmet. The left side pilot's bore "Mad Dog."
Half of that flight I was looking straight down at the ground hoping those belts would really hold.
The other half I was looking straight up while the guys on the other side got to enjoy picking the leaves off trees.
I knew what NOE was, but the first time it's just a triffle TERRIFIING!
Those guys were good.
"Vietnam,flew choppers,hard landing".
That's all he said,I never brought it up again,either did he.
His descendants are doing the same work today in Afghanistan and Iraq. Good to see him recognized for his skill and bravery.
Thanks for the ping!
Awesome! simply awesome! :)
To all the Vietnam Vets here.... Thanks guys for showing all that followed that American Grit and determination will win a war even when the cards are stacked against you.... as long as you keep the F*$%#@$% Politicans out of it. Thanks fellas we can never repay you for your service, but can honor you for it and learn from.
Amen to that.