The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS, Gold Star in lieu of the third award to
MAJOR ERNEST C. CUNNINGHAM, JR.
UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS
for service as set forth in the following
"For heroism and extraordinary achievement in aerial flight while serving as a Pilot with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 364, Marine Aircraft Group Sixteen, First Marine Aircraft Wing in connection with combat operations against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam. On 14 April 1969, Major Cunningham launched as Aircraft Commander of a CH-46 transport helicopter assigned to medically evacuate the crew of another transport which had crashed in a heavily-wooded area approximately twelve miles south of DaNang in Quang Nam Province. Despite the deteriorating weather conditions and approaching darkness, he decided to attempt the rescue and, arriving over the designated location, came under a heavy volume of enemy fire. Alertly pin- pointing the hostile emplacement, Major Cunningham directed the suppressive fire of his crew, thereby temporarily silencing the enemy fire. Establishing a steady hover close to the burning helicopter, he ably supervised the rescue operation, which lasted almost an hour. With complete disregard for his own safety and the ammunition detonating inside the downed aircraft, Major. Cunningham resolutely maintained his exposed position until the wounded Marines had been embarked. His bold initiative and superb aeronautical ability inspired all who observed him and contributed significantly to the accomplish- ment of his unit's mission. Major Cunningham's courage, aggressive leadership and unswerving devotion to duty in the face of great personal danger were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service."
FOR THE PRESIDENT
/s/ H. W. Buse, Jr.
H. W. BUSE, JR.
Crew of YK-3
|Maj. Ernest C. Cunningham||Pilot|
|LtCol. Eugene R. Brady||Copilot|
|Sgt. John F. Gruenewald||Crew Chief|
|Cpl. James V. King||Gunner|
|PFC. Bruce A. Pankuch||Gunner|
|SSgt. J. L. Wood||Gunner|
|LCpl. Jerome T. Meyers||Gunner|
|Cpl. Franklin B. Jones||Gunner|
After Action Report
YK-5 Destroyed on "Charlie Ridge."
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