The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS posthumously to
FIRST LIEUTENANT DAVID WALTER STERLING
UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS RESERVE
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 operations against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam. Early on the morning of 26 January 1969, First Lieutenant Sterling launched as Copilot aboard the lead aircraft in a flight of two CH-46 transport helicopters assigned the emergency medical evac- uation of a seriously wounded Marine from an unsecure landing zone southwest of DaNang in Quang Nam Province. Realizing the urgency of extracting the injured man, First Lieutenant Sterling, undaunted by the total darkness, hazard- ous mountain terrain and threat of hostile fire, resolutely elected to assist in attempting the evacuation. As the helicopter approached the site, First Lieuten- ant Sterling was monitoring his radio for a briefing on the tactical situation in the landing zone when his aircraft was observed to suddenly veer to the right, and almost immediately, there was a flash and an explosion which fatally injur- ed all the occupants. Aware that the CH-46 had crashed into a mountainside, the wingman approached the crash site to determine the fate of the helicopter and its crew and was forced to abort his approach due to intense enemy small arms and automatic weapons fire. First Lieutenant Sterling's courage, resolute determination and unwavering devotion to duty in a bold attempt to save the life of a fellow Marine were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life in the service of his country."
FOR THE PRESIDENT
/s/ W. H. Buse, Jr.
W. H. BUSE, JR.
Citation provided by:
Franklin A. Gulledge, Jr., Major USMC (Ret.), and
Awards Branch, Headquarters, United States Marine Corps
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