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Michael Edwin Thornton

Mike Thornton - Medal Of Honor Recipient


U.S. Navy (SEAL)
Medal Of Honor, Vietnam

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Petty Officer Thornton, as Assistant U.S. Navy Advisor, along with a U.S. Navy lieutenant serving as Senior Advisor, accompanied a three-man Vietnamese Navy SEAL patrol on an intelligence gathering and prisoner capture operation against an enemy-occupied naval river base. Launched from a Vietnamese Navy junk in a rubber boat, the patrol reached land and was continuing on foot toward its objective when it suddenly came under heavy fire from a numerically superior force. The patrol called in naval gunfire support and then engaged the enemy in a fierce firefight, accounting for many enemy casualties before moving back to the waterline to prevent encirclement. Upon learning that the Senior Advisor had been hit by enemy fire and was believed to be dead, Petty Officer Thornton returned through a hail of fire to the lieutenant's last position; quickly disposed of two enemy soldiers about to overrun the position, and succeeded in removing the seriously wounded and unconscious Senior Naval Advisor to the water's edge. He then inflated the lieutenant's lifejacket and towed him seaward for approximately two hours until picked up by support craft.

The SEAL officer rescued by Petty Officer Thornton was Lieutenant Thomas Norris, who six months earlier earned the Medal of Honor in the daring rescue of two downed airmen. It is one of only three known instances in which a Medal of Honor was awarded for saving the life of another Medal of Honor recipient.

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