HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - President Donald Trump awarded US Army Capt. (ret.) Gary Michael Rose with the Medal of Honor for his bravery during the Vietnam War.
Capt. Rose received the Medal of Honor for voluntarily risking his life on multiple occasions during combat operations while serving as a medic with the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne). From September 11 through September 14, 1970, while his unit was engaged with a much larger force deep in enemy-controlled territory, then-Sergeant Rose repeatedly ran into the line of enemy fire to provide critical medical aid to his comrades, using his own body on one occasion to shield a wounded American from harm.
On the final day of the mission, although wounded himself, Sergeant Rose voluntarily exposed himself to enemy fire while moving wounded personnel to the extraction point, loading them into helicopters, and helping to repel an enemy assault on the American position. As he boarded the final extraction helicopter, intense enemy fire hit the helicopter, causing it to crash shortly after takeoff. Again, ignoring his own injuries, Sergeant Rose pulled the helicopter crew and members of his unit from the burning wreckage and provided medical aid until another extraction helicopter arrived.
Rose enlisted in the Army after attending San Fernando State College. He attended Officer Candidate School in 1973 and earned a bachelor’s degree in general education and military science from Cameron University in 1977. He retired from the Army in 1987. After retiring, Captain Rose earned a master’s degree in communication from the University of Oklahoma and later worked as a technical consultant in the defense and automobile industries, developing user and maintenance manuals and training programs and materials.
Today, Captain Rose lives in Huntsville, Alabama, with his wife Margaret, and is involved in a number of charitable organizations. He is a lifetime member of the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, the Knights of Columbus, the Military Officers Association of America, the Military Order of the Purple Heart, the Special Forces Association, the Special Operations Association, and the Vietnam Veterans Association. He and Margaret have two daughters, Sarah and Claire, and one son, Michael.
THE MEDAL OF HONOR:
The Medal of Honor is awarded by the President, in the name of Congress, to members of the Armed Forces who distinguish themselves conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty while:
- engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States;
- engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or
- serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.
The meritorious conduct must involve great personal bravery or self-sacrifice so conspicuous as to clearly distinguish the individual above his or her comrades and must have involved risk of life. There must be incontestable proof of the performance of the meritorious conduct, and each recommendation for the award must be considered on the standard of extraordinary merit.
Anytime a soldier is awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, it's a very special thing. But perhaps the award presented to Capt. Rose was just a little more special because his is the first that acknowledges the secret missions undertaken by American troops during the Vietnam war in the neighboring country of Laos.
For many years, the United States refused to acknowledge those secret missions, like Operation Tailwind, that took Rose and a group of Special Forces deep behind enemy lines.
"Mike and his unit slashed through the dense jungle, dodged bullets, dodged explosives, dodged everything that you can dodge because they threw it all at them," said President Trump during the ceremony. "And continuously returned fire as they moved deeper and deeper and deeper into enemy territory. Throughout the engagement, Mike rescued those in distress without any thought for his own safety."
The narrative of Capt. Rose's actions during that mission is amazing. And today, he accepted our nation's highest military honor on the behalf of those he served with.
"So in honor of all of those individuals that went for so many years where the military didn't even recognize the fact that MACV-SOG even existed. And all the men who fought in that time frame, this kinda brings it home," said Capt. Rose. "And now, their story is being told, and now, with this award, I am convinced that they have been recognized for the great service they did for this country."
With Monday's ceremony, Capt. Rose becomes the 69th living Vietnam veteran to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor, and the 19th combat medic.