The Navy Cross

                  The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the NAVY CROSS (Gold Star in lieu of the Second Award) to


for service as set forth in the following citation:

           For extraordinary heroism while serving  with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron  364,  Marine  Aircraft  Group  Sixteen,   First  Marine  Aircraft  Wing during combat operations against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam.  On 21 April 1969, First Lieutenant Donovan launched as pilot of a transport helicopter assigned the mission of  medically  evacuating  seriously wounded  Marines from an  open  rice  paddy  northwest  of  Liberty  Bridge  in  Quang Nam Province.  Arriving over  the designated  area,  he commenced  a  high-speed,  low-altitude approach  toward  a  tree  line  north  of  the site, and immediately  came under machine-gun  fire  which  damaged the  forward  section  of  his  transport.  Undaunted by the hostile fire,  he maneuvered  the helicopter  to the area  where the casualties lay, maintaining his helicopter in a hover while wounded men were embarked.   Still taking a heavy volume of enemy fire, First Lieutenant Donovan departed the area and delivered his  patients to the hospital at  Da Nang.   After an inspection of the battle damage  revealed that  the helicopter  was  no longer airworthy,  he took command  of a second  aircraft and  immediately  received a request for another medical evacuation mission from the same area.  Proceeding at once to the site, he commenced his second approach into the hazardous zone, again flying  through  intense  enemy fire.  As he waited the embarkation of the casualties,  additional enemy  fire erupted  which prevented  the Marines  on  the ground from embarking the  remainder of the  casualties.   When  informed that his starboard  gunner had been wounded,  First Lieutenant Donovan  lifted from the zone to  evaluate  the  man's  wound  and  to  appraise  the  damage  to  his aircraft.   Determining that the  aircraft was  still  capable of  accomplishing  the evacuation and  that  his  gunner  was  not  seriously  wounded,  he  advised the ground  unit  that  he  was  again  ready  to  enter  the  hazardous  zone, but was informed that   another  helicopter   had   been  designated   to   complete   the mission.  By his courage, superior aeronautical ability, and unwavering devotion to duty  in  the  face of  grave personal  danger,   First Lieutenant Donovan  was directly instrumental in saving the lives of several fellow Marines and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service.

                                                                           For the President,

                                                                          /s/ John H. Chafee

                                                                            Secretary of the Navy

Crew of YK-4 & YK-19

1stLt. Joseph P. Donovan Pilot
1stLt. Jeffry D. Monaghan Copilot
Cpl. Larry M. Neuman Crew Chief YK-4
Cpl. Robert B. Steinberg Crew Chief YK-19
LCpl. John E. Harris Gunner (WIA)
PFC. Samuel T. Poole Gunner
HN M. L. Peters Corpsman YK-4
HN John L. VanDamme Corpsman YK-19

After Action Reports


On April 21, 2001, the thirty second anniversary of this mission, Joseph P. "Pat" Donovan replied to an email received from Bruce Cader who was assigned to Bravo 1/5 which had suffered the numerous casualties.  From this personal message your webmaster has determined the following crew members of Lt. Donovan's aircraft whose call sign that evening was Swift 1-2.  1stLt. J. D. "Jeff" Monaghan was the copilot.  Pat recalled that LCpl. John E. Harris, his crew chief, was also manning the starboard .50 caliber machine gun.  LCpl. Harris had been wounded at some point in the right arm but continued firing over 575 rounds with his left arm only.  Pat commenting on the actions of LCpl. Harris stated, "He was and is my personal hero on this mission."   The corpsman for the mission was HN M. L. Peters.

Submitted by:
    Dave McSorley, Colonel USMC(Ret)
    (1stLt. Dave McSorley was the Assistant Awards Officer of the squadron in 1969)
    Bruce Cader, former Lance Corporal, USMC

Citation provided by:
    Joseph P. "Pat" Donovan, former Major USMCR