The Air Medal


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



for service as set forth in the following


                               "For heroic achievement  in aerial  flight while  serving  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.  Late  in  the afternoon of 11 July 1970, First Lieutenant Orahood  launched as Copilot aboard the  lead aircraft  in a flight of two CH-46  transport helicopters assigned  the emergency ladder  extraction of a reconnaissance  team which  was heavily engaged  in combat  with a numerically superior  hostile force  in a densely-jungled  mountainous area  west of DaNang. Arriving  over  the  designated  area  as darkness  closed  in,  he  found  that  the beleaguered patrol was located on the side of a hill among  tall trees and that the pick-up site was marked  by a single strobe light.  Undaunted by  the intensity of the  enemy fire  directed at his  aircraft,  which forced  the first  approach  to  be aborted,  First  Lieutenant Orahood  skillfully  monitored  his  instruments  and equipment  and provided a  continuous flow of  vita  information which enabled his transport  on its second  approach to  be  maneuvered  to a hover  above  the patrol,  lower its  extraction ladder down  through the canopy,  and remain in its precarious position until each member of  the reconnaissance team had attached himself to the ladder.  When his helicopter began to lose power as it lifted out of the area  because of the altitude,  wind conditions,  and the additional  weight of the men suspended on  the ladder,  he jettisoned some of  the fuel to lighten  the load,  activated  the auxiliary  power plant when  the generator  lost power,  and then provided precise navigational and  flight data as his transport  departed the dangerous area.  First Lieutenant Orahood's courage,  superior airmanship,  and unwavering  devotion  to   duty  at   great  personal   risk  were   instrumental  in accomplishing  the  hazardous  mission  and  were  in  keeping with  the  highest  traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United Sates Naval Service."


/S/  Wm. K. Jones



Crew of YK-15

Pilot 1stLt. David K. Schmitz
Copilot 1stLt. Douglas R. Orahood
Crew Chief Cpl. James E. Morris
Gunner SSgt. Howard P. Hughes 
Gunner Deal (probably TAD?)
Itinerary Remarks
MMAF Departed Marble Mountain at 1915
AT958752 LZ 401 to pick up the ladder and briefing
ZC133709 Extraction of Team "Segment" & POWs
AT958752 Deliver team "Segment" to LZ 401
MMAF Mission complete 2015

After Action Report

Citation and After Action Report provided by:
    Franklin A. Gulledge, Jr., Major USMC (Ret) and,
    Headquarters, United States Marine Corps


The nine man reconnaissance team (Segment) was equipped with harnesses and could have been extracted with the SPIE rig but, they had captured some NVA/VC prisoners from a base camp area overlooking Elephant Valley and the prisoners were not equipped for a SPIE rig extraction, therefore the slower ladder extract method was utilized.  After we had the team, and their prisoners, loaded on the ladder and started to pull in the power to lift out, several enemy soldiers came out of the tree line and opened up.  Because it was dusk, the light effect from the team's muzzle flashes below, as they fired upon the enemy, looked like a pinwheel.  I have never seen anything like it, before or after.  We didn't have enough power to get out though, so we had to hang there, dump fuel, and get shot at.  When we were able to gain altitude, we had to depart directly over the enemy shooting at us and team Segment hung out below us to reach a cliff edge, drop the nose and gain transitional lift.

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