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Few combat fields have ever tested the versatility and courage of the American airman like the skies over Vietnam during America's longest war.  Air Force pilots flew bombing missions over North Vietnam and ground support missions over the South.  They flew jet fighters in air-to-air encounters with Soviet-made MiGs, and they flew helicopters to drop into enemy infested jungles to extract other downed pilots as well as wounded infantrymen.  They flew into dense fog, heavy rains, and hails of enemy gunfire.  They braved SAMs (surface to air missiles), anti-aircraft fire, and heavy small-arms and machinegun fire from the ground to perform and finish their missions.  They risked their lives to fly over isolated American outposts to provide support or drop supplies, and landed on battle scarred runways in the midst of their enemies to pluck from danger, Americans at risk.

Many were killed, others listed as Missing in Action....their fate unknown.  Some survived long tenures of torture as Prisoners of War.  One was captured AFTER his Medal of Honor action, another survived to wear the Medal of Honor for his heroism as a prisoner of the enemy.  One Medal of Honor hero died in captivity, resisting the will of his captors.

The newly designed Medal of Honor was awarded to twelve airmen in the years immediately following the end of the Vietnam war.  For the first time, living heroes outnumbered the dead, eight of the twelve surviving to wear their Nation's highest award.  Long after the end of the war a thirteenth airman received the Medal of Honor for heroism in enlisted man who had left the relative safety of his helicopter to voluntarily join and treat wounded soldiers on the ground.  His Medal of Honor was posthumously presented to his father 35 years after he gave his life to save the lives of others.

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