The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the AIR MEDAL (Bronze Star for the First Award) to
CAPTAIN RICHARD C. KECKLER
UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS RESERVE
for service as set forth in the following
"For heroic 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 operations against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam. On the night of 26 Jan- uary 1969, Captain Keckler launched as Section Leader of a flight of CH-46 transport aircraft assigned the emergency resupply of vitally needed ammunition to a small Marine unit in a mountainous area of Quang Nam Province. Arriving over the designated location, he dis- covered that a night haze and lack of both moonlight and flareship made it almost impossible to locate the ground unit and that the strobe light utilized by the Marines was obscured by the heavy jungle canopy. Due to the cumbersome cargo attached to his 100 foot cable, Captain Keckler was unable to execute a tight spiral which would have aided him in pinpointing the landing zone, but, after futilely attempting three approaches, determined to satisfy the desperate needs of the ground unit by dropping the cargo into the zone. As he maneuvered his transport as close to the site as possible, he came under a down draft which caused him to lose power. As his copilot quickly jettisoned the ammunition, Captain Keckler, displaying superior airmanship, recovered control of his helicopter and, with utmost skill, executed a lift off just short of the tree tops. Captain Keckler's courage, superb aeronautical ability and unwavering devotion to duty at great personal risk contributed signifi- cantly to the accomplishment of the mission 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.
LIEUTENANT GENERAL, U. S. MARINE CORPS
COMMANDING GENERAL, FLEET MARINE FORCE, PACIFIC
|Capt. Richard C. Keckler||Pilot|
|1stLt. James D. Hintz||Copilot|
|LCpl. Thomas J. Snow||Gunner|
After Action Report
I went into power settling and thank God I dropped
the collective, kicked
in full pedal and rolled down the side of the mountain until I got my airspeed
back. Out of the 800 missions I flew that one scared me the most. I went
into power settling right over the zone so the grunts got their ammo.
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