The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the SILVER STAR MEDAL to
FIRST LIEUTENANT DONALD V. ESMOND
UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS RESERVE
for service as set forth in the following
"For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action 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 the morning of 17 November 1969, First Lieutenant Esmond launched as Section Leader of a flight of two CH-46 transport helicopters assigned the emergency medical evacuation of casualties from a Second Republic of Korea Marine Brigade unit which was operating eighteen miles southwest of DaNang. Arriving over the designated area, he was informed that the friendly unit was under intense enemy rocket, mortar, and automatic weapons fire and that the number of wounded Koreans had risen to seven with four requiring immediate extraction. Skillfully coordi- nating his flight's approach with the fire of supporting gunships and the screening smoke laid down by an OV-10 aircraft, First Lieutenant Esmond un- daunted by the extremely heavy volume of hostile fire directed at his helicopter, expertly maneuvered his CH-46 to a landing in the fire-swept area. As his air- craft touched down, it was struck by fragments from exploding enemy rounds, seriously damaging the CH-46 and wounding him. Despite his painful wounds, he resolutely held his aircraft in its precarious position until all the casualties were placed aboard, and then lifted out of th e hazardous area. Although an enemy round had severed the pressure line to the forward transmission, he skill- fully maintained his controls to keep his crippled helicopter airborne. When informed that two of his crewmen were critically wounded and and that there was a sizable hydraulic leak in the number two boost system, First Lieutenant Esmond maintained a flight pattern at 1,000 foot altitude in an attempt to reach the Marble Mountain Air Facility and, when his number two and utility boost systems completely failed, maneuvered his CH-46 to a safe landing on a beach. Quickly securing his aircraft, he assisted in transferring the wounded Marines and the Korean casualties to his wingman's helicopter which had landed nearby and then proceeded to the hospital facility at Marble Mountain. By his courage, superior airmanship, and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of great personal danger, First Lieutenant Esmond upheld 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.
A related Citation to this incident.
Sgt. Richard D. McReynolds' Distinguished Flying Cross.
Citation provided by:
Franklin A. Gulledge, Jr., Major USMC (Ret) and,
Awards Branch, Headquarters, United States Marine Corps
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