Bruce Crandall: The Story of a Medal of Honor Recipient and Heroic Helicopter Pilot
Bruce Crandall was a United States Army helicopter pilot who served during the Vietnam War. He was awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest military honor in the United States, for his bravery and heroism during the Battle of Ia Drang in November 1965.
Crandall was a captain in the 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division, and was tasked with supporting ground troops during the battle. Despite heavy enemy fire and adverse weather conditions, Crandall repeatedly flew his helicopter into the battle zone to evacuate wounded soldiers and resupply troops with ammunition and other necessary supplies.
During one particularly dangerous mission, Crandall flew his helicopter into a landing zone that was surrounded by enemy forces, despite being warned by ground troops not to attempt the landing. Once on the ground, he remained there for over an hour, providing critical support to the ground troops and evacuating wounded soldiers under heavy enemy fire.
Crandall’s actions were instrumental in saving the lives of many American soldiers during the Battle of Ia Drang. He continued to serve in Vietnam and in the U.S. Army for several years after the war, eventually retiring as a colonel.
Crandall’s heroism and selflessness serve as an inspiration to many, and his dedication to serving his country and his fellow soldiers has earned him a place in history as one of the bravest and most honorable members of the U.S. military.
During the battle, Crandall repeatedly flew his helicopter into the thick of the fighting to evacuate wounded soldiers, resupply troops, and provide close air support. At one point, he even flew his helicopter directly into enemy fire to rescue a group of stranded soldiers who were pinned down and under heavy attack.
Despite being wounded and facing constant danger, Crandall refused to leave the battle and continued to fly his helicopter in and out of the combat zone, putting his own life on the line to save others. His courage and selflessness inspired those around him and helped to turn the tide of the battle.
For his actions, Crandall was awarded the Medal of Honor by President George W. Bush in 2007. His citation reads in part:
“Chief Warrant Officer Five Crandall’s daring acts of bravery and courage in the face of an overwhelming enemy force helped save the lives of countless American soldiers and turn the tide of the battle. His unwavering commitment to duty and to his fellow soldiers is an inspiration to all Americans, and his heroic actions on that fateful day will forever be remembered as a testament to the strength and resilience of the human spirit.”
As a result of his heroism, Bruce Crandall was awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest military honor in the United States. His citation reads: “Major Bruce P. Crandall distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism as a Flight Commander in the Republic of Vietnam, while serving with Company A, 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile). On 14 November 1965, his flight of sixteen helicopters was lifting troops for a search and destroy mission from Plei Me, Vietnam, to Landing Zone X-Ray in the Ia Drang Valley.
On the fourth troop lift, the airlift began to take enemy fire, and by the time the aircraft had refueled and returned for the next troop lift, the enemy had landing zones targeted and began firing again. During the day-long battle, Major Crandall continued to fly into and out of the landing zone under intense enemy fire, bringing in ammunition, water, and supplies and evacuating the wounded. His courageous actions and calmness under fire saved the lives of many soldiers and were a major factor in the success of the battle.”
Bruce Crandall continued to serve in the Army until his retirement in 1977, attaining the rank of Colonel. He then settled in Washington State and worked in various capacities, including as a helicopter pilot for the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
After the Vietnam War, Crandall retired from the military and settled in Washington. However, his heroism during the war did not go unnoticed. In 2007, Crandall was awarded the Medal of Honor by President George W. Bush for his extraordinary courage and selflessness during the Battle of Ia Drang. The Medal of Honor is the highest military honor that can be awarded to a member of the U.S. armed forces.
In 2007, Crandall was awarded the nation’s highest military honor, the Medal of Honor, for his actions during the Battle of Ia Drang. The award ceremony was held at the White House, with President George W. Bush presenting the medal to Crandall. In his remarks, Bush praised Crandall’s bravery and dedication to his fellow soldiers, stating that “His acts of valor saved many lives, and his legacy will live on forever.”
Crandall’s Medal of Honor citation reads in part: “His leadership, courage, and selflessness are an inspiration to his comrades and reflect the highest credit upon himself and the United States Army.” Crandall passed away in 2019 at the age of 84, leaving behind a legacy of bravery and service to his country.
Crandall’s bravery and dedication to his fellow soldiers have inspired many. In 2002, the book “We Were Soldiers Once… and Young” by Harold G. Moore and Joseph L. Galloway was adapted into a film, “We Were Soldiers,” which depicted the Battle of Ia Drang and Crandall’s heroism. The role of Crandall was played by actor Greg Kinnear.
Today, Crandall is a respected veteran and public figure, and his legacy lives on through his Medal of Honor and the numerous honors and awards he has received throughout his career. He continues to be an inspiration to many, demonstrating the bravery, selflessness, and unwavering commitment to duty that define the best of the U.S. military.