The Silver Star

 Waukesha Marine Honored
For Bravery in Vietnam

A 21 year old Marine sergeant from Waukesha who was shot away from his machine gun, but crawled back to fight, has been decorated for bravery.

Sergeant Edward S. Wilke, son of Mr. and Mrs. Philip E. Wilke, 23908 W. Blue Mounds Road was awarded the Silver Star Medal by Major General Charles J. Quilter, Commanding General, Third Marine Aircraft Wing.

Wilke, a Corporal at the time, was assigned as a gunner aboard an evacuation helicopter last September.  His helicopter was directed to pick up nine wounded South Vietnamese soldiers at four different landing zones.  The first three pickups were routine, but at the fourth landing zone Vietcong guerillas fired at the helicopter.  

"Corporal Wilke exercised remarkable restraint by holding his fire in order to eliminate the possibility of hitting friendly units," the citation said.  As the aircraft landed, he was hit in the left knee by an automatic weapon round and knocked from his seat.

The veteran of 134 aerial missions crawled back to his machine gun and began firing.  He estimates he poured more than 750 rounds of ammunition on the enemy that day.

Corporal Wilke refused medical aid for his own wound until all the wounded South Vietnamese soldiers were evacuated.

In addition to the Silver Star, Corporal Wilke earned six Air Medals and the Purple Heart.

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