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Full Text Citations For Award of
 

The Air Force Cross 
During the SS Mayaguez Incident

 

To All Who Shall See These Presents Greeting:

This is to Certify that
The President of the United States of America
Authorized by Title 10, Section 8742, United States Code
Takes Pride in Presenting


THE AIR FORCE CROSS
to

 

BACKLUND, DONALD R.
Citation:
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Air Force Cross to Donald R. Backlund, First Lieutenant, U.S. Air Force, for extraordinary heroism in military operations against an opposing armed force as a Helicopter Aircraft Commander of an HH-53 Helicopter of the 40th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron, Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Air Base, Thailand, SEVENTH Air Force, in action on 15 May 1975 at Koh Tang Island, Cambodia. On that date, while engaged in the recovery of the S.S. MAYAGUEZ and crew, Lieutenant Backlund, exhibiting superb airmanship, placed a contingent of United States Marines aboard the destroyer escort, U.S.S. Holt. He then successfully landed several United States Marines on Koh Tang Island despite intense ground fire. After escorting his wingman to the U.S.S. Coral Sea, Lieutenant Backlund then returned to Koh Tang Island and successfully recovered a group of United States Marines and airmen although encountering heavy, consistent ground fire. Through his extraordinary heroism, superb airmanship, and aggressiveness in the face of hostile forces, Lieutenant Backlund reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.
Special Orders GB-583, 7/14/1975, USAF
Personal Awards: Air Force Cross (S.S. Mayaguez Incident), Meritorious Service Medal, 2@ Air Medals, Air Force Commendation Medal


BRIMS, RICHARD C.
Citation:
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Air Force Cross to Richard C. Brims, First Lieutenant, U.S. Air Force, for extraordinary heroism in military operations against an opposing armed force as an HH-53 Helicopter Aircraft Commander of the 21st Special Operations Squadron, Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Air Base, Thailand, SEVENTH Air Force, in action on 15 May 1975, at Koh Tang Island, Cambodia. On that date, while engaged in the recovery of the S.S. MAYAGUEZ and crew, Lieutenant Brims successfully landed United States Marines on Koh Tang Island despite overwhelming ground fire. Prior to leaving the island, Lieutenant Brims held his position against heavy ground fire and managed to extract five seriously wounded Marines. He then twice flew his aircraft into intense ground fire, successfully removing remaining groups of United States Marines. Through his extraordinary heroism, superb airmanship, and aggressiveness in the face of hostile forces, Lieutenant Brims reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.
Special Orders GB-583, 7/14/1975, USAF
Personal Awards: Air Force Cross (S.S. Mayaguez Incident), @ Meritorious Service Medals, 2@ Air Medals, Joint Service Commendation Medal, 2@ Air Force Commendation Medals


HARSTON, JON D.
Synopsis:
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Air Force Cross to Jon D. Harston (AF-12881152), Staff Sergeant, U.S. Air Force, for extraordinary heroism in military operations against an opposing armed force as a Helicopter Flight Mechanic on board a CH-53 helicopter of the 21st Special Operations Squadron, Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Air Base, Thailand, SEVENTH Air Force, in action on 15 May 1975, at Koh Tang Island, Cambodia. On that date, while engaged in the rescue of the crew and recovery of the SS Mayaguez, Staff Sergeant Harston's helicopter encountered extremely heavy hostile fire and crashed at the shoreline of Koh Tang Island. Although wounded in the leg, Sergeant Harston reentered the burning aircraft and led three Marines to safety. As the survivors of the crash swam away from the beach, Sergeant Harston provided covering fire. He returned to the wrecked helicopter again to pull out another wounded Marine. He then kept himself and two wounded Marines afloat with his damaged life preserver until they were rescued by a navy destroyer approximately three hours later. Through his extraordinary heroism and willpower, in the face of the enemy, Staff Sergeant Harston reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.
Special Orders GB-583, 7/14/1975, USAF
Born: July 1948 at Newport News, Virginia
Home Town: Newport News, Virginia
Personal Awards: Air Force Cross, Purple Heart, 10@ Air Medals


PURSER, ROWLAND W.
Synopsis:
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Air Force Cross to Rowland W. Purser, Captain, U.S. Air Force, for extraordinary heroism in military operations against an opposing armed force as an HH-53 Helicopter Pilot of the 40th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron, Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Air Base, Thailand, SEVENTH Air Force, in action on 15 May 1975 at Koh Tang Island, Cambodia. On that date, Captain Purser made two tries under heavy fire before landing 29 Marines on the island. He picked up another group of Marines in Thailand and returned to Koh Tang Island. In the evacuation of the Marines fro Koh Tang Island, Captain Purser's helicopter was severely damaged and he had to return to the U.S.S. Coral Sea, which was nearby. Getting his helicopter repaired, he returned to the island to pick up 54 Marines and return them safely to the Coral Sea. Through his extraordinary heroism, superb airmanship, and aggressiveness in the face of hostile forces, Captain Purser reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.
Special Orders GB-583, 7/14/1975, USAF

 

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