Army Maj. John J. Duffy > U.S. Division of Protection > Story

Army Maj. John J. Duffy usually operated behind enemy traces throughout his 4 excursions of obligation in Vietnam. Throughout a kind of deployments, he single-handedly saved a South Vietnamese battalion from decimation. Fifty years later, the Distinguished Service Cross he obtained for these actions was upgraded to the Medal of Honor.

Duffy was born in Brooklyn, New York, on March 16, 1938, and joined the Army in March 1955 when he was solely 17. By 1963, he’d earned his fee as an officer and joined the fifth Special Forces Group as an elite Inexperienced Beret.

Duffy deployed to Vietnam 4 instances throughout his profession; in 1967, 1968, 1971 and 1973. It was throughout his third tour of obligation that he earned the Medal of Honor.

The Battle

In early April 1972, Duffy was a senior advisor to an elite battalion of the South Vietnamese military. When North Vietnamese forces tried to overrun Fireplace Assist Base Charlie within the nation’s Central Highlands, Duffy’s troopers have been tasked with holding off the battalion-sized unit.

Because the offensive neared the tip of its second week, the South Vietnamese commander working with Duffy had been killed, the battalion’s command submit was destroyed, and meals, water and ammunition have been operating out. Duffy had been injured twice however refused to be evacuated.

Within the early morning hours of April 14, Duffy tried however did not arrange a touchdown zone for resupply plane. Pushing on, he managed to make his approach near the enemy’s anti-aircraft positions to name in airstrikes. The most important was wounded a 3rd time by rifle fragments however once more refused medical consideration.

Shortly after that, the North Vietnamese began blasting the bottom with artillery. Duffy remained out within the open so he may direct U.S. gunships towards enemy positions to close down the assault. When that success led to a lull in battle, the most important assessed the harm to the bottom and made certain the wounded South Vietnamese troopers have been moved to relative security. He additionally made certain any leftover ammunition was distributed to the lads who may nonetheless defend the bottom.

Quickly after, the enemy resumed its assault; Duffy continued directing gunship hearth on them. By the late afternoon, enemy troopers began to maneuver onto the bottom from all instructions. Duffy needed to transfer from place to place to regulate counterfire, spot targets for artillery observers and even direct gunship hearth on his personal place, which had been compromised.

No Man Left Behind

By the night, it was clear that Duffy and his males can be overrun. He began organizing a retreat, and, beneath the code title Dusty Cyanide, he continued calling in gunship help for canopy hearth and was the final man to depart the bottom.

Early the subsequent morning, the enemy ambushed the remaining South Vietnamese troopers as they retreated, inflicting extra casualties and scattering the able-bodied males. Duffy arrange defensive positions so his troopers may push the enemy again. After, he led the remaining males — a lot of whom have been severely injured — to an evacuation space, even because the enemy continued to pursue them.

As soon as they obtained to the evacuation web site, Duffy once more directed gunship hearth on the enemy and marked a touchdown zone for the rescue helicopters. Duffy refused to get on one of many choppers till all the opposite males have been onboard. In line with an account of the evacuation within the San Diego Union Tribune, as Duffy balanced on a strut of his helicopter whereas it pulled away, he saved a South Vietnamese paratrooper who had begun to fall out of the helicopter, grabbing him and pulling him again in. He then helped a helicopter door gunner who had been wounded in the course of the evacuation.

An Upgraded Honor

Duffy initially obtained the Distinguished Service Cross for the actions described above; nevertheless, that honor was lately upgraded to the Medal of Honor. Together with his brother, Tom, by his facet, the now-84-year-old Duffy obtained the nation’s highest award for army valor from President Joseph R. Biden throughout a White Home ceremony on July 5, 2022.

“It appeared unfathomable that some 40 males with no meals, water or ammunition may nonetheless be alive amidst the swarm of enemy fighters,” Army Gen. Joseph M. Martin, the vice chief of workers of the Army, mentioned in the course of the ceremony. “It was Main Duffy’s many heroic acts, together with calling for strikes on his personal place to permit his battalion to retreat, that enabled the escape. Main Duffy’s Vietnamese brothers … credit score him with saving their battalion from full annihilation.”

Three different Vietnam Struggle service members obtained the medal similtaneously Duffy; Army Spc. 5 Dennis M. Fujii, Army Employees Sgt. Edward N. Kaneshiro and Army Spc. 5 Dwight Birdwell.

From Warrior to Poet

Duffy retired in Might 1977. Throughout his 22 years of service, he obtained 63 different awards and decorations, together with eight purple hearts.

The most important moved to Santa Cruz, California, after his retirement and finally met and married a girl named Mary. As a civilian, he was the president of a publishing firm earlier than changing into a stockbroker and founding a reduction brokerage agency that was finally purchased out by TD Ameritrade.

Duffy additionally turned a poet, detailing a few of his fight experiences in his writings as a strategy to go the tales alongside to future generations. A lot of his poems are posted on-line. The most important has written six books of poetry and was as soon as nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

One poem Duffy wrote, known as “The Ahead Air Controller,” was inscribed on a monument in Colorado Springs, Colorado, to honor the sacrifices of ahead air controllers. In line with Duffy’s web site, he additionally wrote a requiem that he delivered in the course of the monument’s dedication ceremony. That requiem was later added in bronze to the monument’s centerpiece.

A fellow former soldier, retired Army Col. William Reeder Jr., wrote “Extraordinary Valor: The Combat for Charlie Hill in Vietnam,” a e-book that particulars Duffy’s exploits in the course of the 1972 battle.

In line with Duffy’s web site, he was a founding member of the Particular Operations Affiliation and, in 2013, was inducted into the Infantry OCS Corridor Of Fame at Fort Benning, Georgia.

This text is a part of a weekly collection known as “Medal of Honor Monday” during which we spotlight one of many greater than 3,500 Medal of Honor recipients who’ve earned the U.S. army’s highest medal for valor.