The Silver Star


             The  President  of the  United States  takes  pleasure in  presenting  the   SILVER STAR MEDAL posthumously to



for service as set forth in the following


                               "For conspicuous  gallantry  and intrepidity  in action  while serving with Marine Observation Squadron Two, Marine Aircraft Group Sixteen, First Marine Aircraft Wing in connection with combat operations against the en- emy in the Republic of Vietnam.  On 21 April 1969,  First Lieutenant Pennington launched as Pilot of an AH-1G Cobra aircraft assigned to support the emergency medical  evacuation of  seriously wounded  men from  a  Marine unit  which  was heavily engaged with  a large hostile force northwest of  Liberty Bridge in Quang Nam Province.   Arriving over  the designated location,  he learned that previous rescue attempts had been unsuccessful due to intense machine gun fire which had extensively  damaged  one  helicopter  and  forced  the  pilot  of  a second CH-46 transport to abort  his mission.  As the pilot of  the evacuation aircraft commen- ced a  rapid  low-level approach  to the  landing zone,  his aircraft  came under a heavy volume of  enemy fire from two opposite directions.  Repeatedly attacking the hostile positions,  First Lieutenant Pennington,  by his daring maneuvers and judicious utilization of rocket fire,  enabled the transport to complete its mission although  both  helicopters were  hit  by hostile rounds.  During  two  subsequent missions into the same dangerous area,  he continued to disregard his own safety as  he  boldly  executed  skillful  evasive maneuvers  and  accurately  directed  his rockets into firing emplacements manned by determined enemy soldiers,  thereby ensuring the expeditious evacuation of critically injured men.   His heroic actions and  determined  efforts  inspired  all  who observed  him  and  saved the lives of numerous fellow Marines.  By his courage,  superior aeronautical ability and un- wavering devotion to duty in the face of grave personal danger,  First Lieutenant Pennington  contributed significantly  to the accomplishment of the vital mission and upheld  the highest traditions of  the Marine Corps and of  the United States Naval Service."


/S/ H. W. Buse, Jr.


Pilot of the AH-1G Cobra providing gun ship support for
1stLt. Joseph P. Donovan's 2nd Navy Cross


Ken Pennington was a great man and Marine.

Cobra's weren't supposed to go below '1000 or some such artificial floor to protect against loss of these brand new gunships.

We were in trouble on the deck in the zone taking on medevacs and enemy fired on the Marines in the zone.  Ken came down, hovered right next to us, literally hovered next to us and fired his rockets, all of them it seemed, into the enemy firing positions along the tree lines.  It was awesome.  I never saw such fire power so close at hand and it is indelibly etched in my memory.  I have reflected on Ken's heroic actions over the years but never knew he was recipient of SSM. He was a great man.

Ken was a Christian of great religious faith and often talked about his faith.  He never drank alcohol, but was a regular at the O'Club gatherings.  A funny event happened later after we got back from this mission.  Ken landed later than the rest of us. Everyone involved were sitting at our O'Club table and we were talking about the awesome job Ken had done.  In walked Ken having just returned from the flight line, still wearing his weapon.  He removed his cover, and eager to talk to us, forgot he was still wearing his weapon and the place went up for grabs as the O'Club Manager Rang the Brass Bell, meaning as we all know that Ken had to buy the house.  Ken as I said never drank alcohol, and I remember him trying to get the Manager to relent on his call.  Something about "Can't unring the Bell" but it was a great humorous moment involving a great human being and a great Marine.

I cherish his memory.

Semper Fi,
Pat Donovan

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