Vietnam Vets Awarded Silver Stars

The Air Force on Dec. 17 presented Silver Stars to two retired airmen for actions in Vietnam, righting a wrong that lasted for nearly 50 years. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh presented the awards to retired CMSgt. Ronald Brodeur and retired Sgt. Eric Roberts II for their actions in a Feb. 20, 1969, mission that rescued Army Special Forces patrol in Duc Lap. The two pilots on the mission received their Silver Stars in 1969, and while the upgrade from a Distinguished Flying Cross had originally been approved for the two airmen, it was repeatedly denied until persistence paid off, along with the declassification of parts of the mission and a better understanding of the role of Air Force helicopters supporting special operations in Vietnam. “It is incredibly important, finally, that we have the opportunity to thank you,” Welsh said at the Pentagon Hall of Heroes ceremony. Brodeur and Roberts served as gunners on the mission, tasked with rescuing a team that was surrounded by North Vietnamese forces. Under attack, the helicopter lowered to a hover when a mine exploded, tossing Brodeur from the helicopter. Brodeur, dangling from a harness, was able to right himself and return fire while Roberts walked onto the helicopter’s skid to close a pilot’s door that blew open, and direct the helicopter’s hover so all of the soldiers could board. Roberts said the award is for the airmen of his unit, the 20th Special Operations Squadron, and other Vietnam veterans who have not been awarded properly. “They know who they are and they know what they did as a member of the Green Hornets and we love them for it. Thanks,” he said.