James P. Fleming

20th Special Operations Squadron

Medal of Honor

Recipient

                 

1st Lt. James Philip Fleming

 

26 November 1968

United States Air Force

20th Special Operations Squadron


Near Duc Co

Republic of Viet Nam

Citation:

1st Lt. James Philip Fleming Distinguished himself as Aircraft Commander of a UH-1F transport helicopter when he aided a Special Forces Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol being overrun by a large, heavily armed hostile force on 26 November 1968. The call was heard by Captain Fleming’s five ship Green Hornet flight. Two gunships and three transport helicopters arrived to find the team trapped on three sides with their backs to an impassable river. The gunships immediately attacked with their miniguns. One of the gunships was hit by enemy machine gun fire and made a forced landing in a small clearing. The lead helicopter followed the crippled aircraft down and rescued the crew only minutes before enemy troops arrived in the clearing. The number two helicopter, low on fuel, was forced to withdraw. This left only Captain Fleming’s aircraft and the surviving gunship to rescue the desperate patrol. After ordering the patrol to move to another small clearing, the gunship positioned itself between the enemy and the patrol as Captain Fleming flared into the clearing, which was only accessible by pointing the helicopter’s nose over the river bank with its tail extending out over the river. Seeing the team had not been able to get to the clearing and that waiting for them made the helicopter a stationary target, Captain Fleming backed the chopper out while his door gunners kept the enemy at bay. Despite receiving heavy enemy fire and being dangerously low on fuel, Captain Fleming knew his helicopter was the team’s only hope for escape. As he brought his aircraft around and headed back again into the same small clearing on the river bank, the chopper came under extremely heavy fire. This time, as Captain Fleming nudged his helicopter into the clearing, the reconnaissance team detonated a series of Claymore mines around their position that caused enough of a lull in the enemy firing to permit them to get to the clearing and clamber aboard the helicopter.

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