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Above and Beyond the Call of Duty: Gary Michael Rose


Gary Michael Rose was born in Watertown, New York October 17, 1947. (While he did not live in Arkansas, Gary Rose is a lifetime member of the Arkansas Air and Military Museum.) Later he moved to Los Angeles, California where he spent the remainder of his childhood/

Shortly before his twentieth birthday, Rose joined the United States Army in 1967. He attended the US Army Airborne School and then the Special Forces School training as a SF medic. He was shipped to Thailand in 1969 and transferred to South Vietnam in 1970. He was assigned to go on a secret mission called “Operation Tailwind” deep into enemy territory. As they advanced into Laos, they were ambushed by the North Vietnamese Army (NVA). Rose saw several of his team go down, and he immediately rendered proper medical attention. On one occasion he went behind enemy lines to rescue a wounded soldier dragging him back to safety before the Vietcong could get him. As the day wore on, the fighting grew worse, but Rose never stopped rendering medical treatment. Even when the firing was so intense, he still managed to make contact with and treat the wounded by belly crawling from one to the other as he tried to avoid the bullets. On the second day of battle, the NVA was bearing down mercilessly on the US soldiers hitting them with everything they had. Rose was severely wounded, but despite this, continued his job of treating others putting their lives ahead of his own. On one occasion, Rose even shielded a wounded soldier with his own body while treating the soldier’s injuries. Eventually, Rose’s unit called for evacuation, and the US Army sent the choppers. Rose, as ever putting others before himself, loaded everyone else before finally boarding the last helicopter. But, while they were taking off from the landing site, Rose’s helicopter was hit by enemy fire. During the crash, he was thrown from the wreckage being once again severely wounded. Even though he was in severe pain, he was able to drag his buddies from the crashed helicopter before it exploded. Throughout Operation Tailwind, Rose distinguished himself honorably in his duties refusing food, water, and treatment for himself giving his utmost for the men under him. Rose retired from the military in 1987 achieving the rank of captain. He was always known for putting men first. For his selfless actions in Laos, Gary Rose was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 2017. His citation reads:

Sergeant Gary Michael Rose distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a Special Forces Medic with a company sized exploitation force, 5th Special Forces Group, 1st Special Forces. Between 11 and 14 September 1970, Sergeant Rose’s company was continuously engaged by a well-armed and numerically superior hostile force deep in enemy-controlled territory. Enemy B-40 rockets and mortar rounds rained down while the adversary sprayed the area with small arms and machine gun fire, wounding many and forcing everyone to seek cover. Sergeant Rose, braving the hail of bullets, sprinted fifty meters to a wounded soldier’s side. He then used his own body to protect the casualty from further injury while treating his wounds. After stabilizing the casualty, Sergeant Rose carried him through the bullet-ridden combat zone to protective cover. As the enemy accelerated the attack, Sergeant Rose continuously exposed himself to intense fire as he fearlessly moved from casualty to casualty, administering life-saving aid. A B-40 rocket impacted just meters from Sergeant Rose, knocking him from his feet and injuring his head, hand, and foot. Ignoring his wounds, Sergeant Rose struggled to his feet and continued to render aid to the other injured soldiers. During an attempted medevac, Sergeant Rose again exposed himself to enemy fire as he attempted to hoist wounded personnel up to the hovering helicopter, which was unable to land due to unsuitable terrain. The medevac mission was aborted due to intense enemy fire and the helicopter crashed a few miles away due to the enemy fire sustained during the attempted extraction. Over the next two days, Sergeant Rose continued to expose himself to enemy fire in order to treat the wounded, estimated to be half of the company’s personnel. On September 14, during the company’s eventual helicopter extraction, the enemy launched a full-scale offensive. Sergeant Rose, after loading wounded personnel on the first set of extraction helicopters, returned to the outer perimeter under enemy fire, carrying friendly casualties and moving wounded personnel to more secure positions until they could be evacuated. He then returned to the perimeter to help repel the enemy until the final extraction helicopter arrived. As the final helicopter was loaded, the enemy began to overrun the company’s position, and the helicopter’s Marine door gunner was shot in the neck. Sergeant Rose instantly administered critical medical treatment onboard the helicopter, saving the Marine’s life. The helicopter carrying Sergeant Rose crashed several hundred meters from the evacuation point, further injuring Sergeant Rose and the personnel on board. Despite his numerous wounds from the past three days, Sergeant Rose continued to pull and carry unconscious and wounded personnel out of the burning wreckage and continued to administer aid to the wounded until another extraction helicopter arrived. Sergeant Rose’s extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty were critical to saving numerous lives over that four- day time -period. His actions are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, the 1st Special Forces, and the United States Army.