The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS, Gold Star in lieu of the second 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 with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 364, Marine Aircraft Group Sixteen, First Marine Aircraft Wing in connection with combat opera- tions against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam. On 7 February 1969, Major Cunningham launched as Pilot of a CH-46 transport helicopter assigned the mission of extracting a reconnaissance team in heavy contact with a numerically superior enemy force west of DaNang in Quang Nam Province. Arriving over the designated area, he commenced an approach to the landing zone and immediately came under such a heavy volume of fire that he was forced to abort his rescue attempt. After Marine artillery fire missions and gunship strafing runs had been conducted against the hostile positions, he maneuvered his air- craft toward the beleaguered Marines' location a second time but was again forced to abort due to intense enemy fire. Realizing the necessity to quickly extract the reconnaissance team from the hazardous area, Major Cunningham fearlessly executed a low-altitude, high-speed approach through the heavy volume of fire and skillfully backed his CH-46 into a clearing near the ground unit's position. Despite turbulent winds and the lack of a visible horizon to utilize as a reference point, he resolutely maintained the aircraft in a hover with the boarding ramp touching the side of the hill. Having embarked the recon- naissance team, he then departed the area and returned the unit to DaNang. Major Cunningham's courage, superb aeronautical ability and steadfast devotion to duty at great personal risk inspired all who observed him and 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 W. McRae||Crew Chief|
|Cpl. Curtis P. Knox||Gunner|
|LCpl. Louis C. Gruber||Gunner|
After Action Report
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