Robert Monette, Robert Frank, Leonard, Shearer and John Deslouriers received Silver Stars for their 1972 rescue mission during the Vietnam War (Rep. French Hill, Facebook)
Four AMERICAN veterans who saved seven people from a burning transport plane during the War in Vietnam were each given a Silver Star on Tuesday for their heroic actions.
Robert Monette, Robert Frank, Spc. John Deslouriers and Spc. Leonard “Bruce” Shearer — the crew of the UH-1H “Huey” — back in Little Rock, Arkansas, for the ceremony, Stars and Stripes reported.
Arkansas Rep. French Hill presented the medals to the veterans. Three of the survivors of the crash that were saved in the mission also attended, according to Hill’s Facebook post.
The Silver Star is the third highest military combat decoration that can be awarded.
Monette, the pilot during the 1972 rescue mission, told Stars and Stripes on Monday that the medals were “surprising, and very, very humiliating.”
The “Huey” crew saw the C-130 Hercules plane crash when they were on a research mission in Saigon, Vietnam, 45 years ago.
“She was never a Mayday call. By all accounts, no one knew what they had shot,” Monette called for the Stars and Stripes.
They thought that there would be no survivors, but flew closer, and saw people moving among the wreckage, Frank said. They started a rescue mission, despite the fact that the low fuel.
Deslouriers, the shooter, fended off the North Vietnamese Communist forces as the rest of the team pulled five crew members from the wreckage. Frank called for a second helicopter to rescue two or more people. No one was killed that day.
The call to the serving of the crew with Silver Stars came almost immediately. Frank first wrote a recommendation for the Shearer and Deslouriers to receive Silver Stars before he returned to the United States in 1972, according to the Stars and Stripes. Frank said that he thought that his request would get “lost in the shuffle.”
The offer of the grant of the crew with Silver Stars reignited in 2005, as a retired Maj. Jack Shields, who commanded the “Huey” crew, asked for all four members received the medals.
Shields finally got in contact with Tom McNabb and David Carnahan at Hill’s office about 14 months ago. They worked together with the Ministry of Defence to finally award the honor to the men.
“We wanted to get an award for these guys, and it finally came to pass. I’m just happy to see it happen,” Shields said.