Biden awards Medal of Honor to four soldiers for bravery in Vietnam

Associated Press/Evan Vucci
President Joe Biden stands with Spc. Dwight Birdwell, left, before awarding the Medal of Honor to Birdwell for his actions on Jan. 31, 1968, during the Vietnam War, during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, Tuesday, July 5, 2022, in Washington.

President Biden on Tuesday awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military honor, to four Army veterans for their bravery in the Vietnam War, upgrading previous awards given to each man for his service.

The president held a ceremony in the East Room of the White House the day after Independence Day, which Biden noted marked 246 years since the founding of the nation.

“For each of those 246 years, American patriots have answered our nation’s call to military service. They stood in the way of danger, risked everything, literally everything, to defend our nation and our values,” Biden said. “However, not every service member has received the full recognition they deserve. Today, we’re setting the record straight.”

Biden recognized the service of Specialist 5th Class Dwight Birdwell for fighting off an ambush in 1968 at Tan Son Nhut Airbase near Saigon. Birdwell took enemy fire to his face and torso but refused evacuation while he waited for reinforcements.

The president also recognized Maj. John Duffy for his bravery when the enemy launched an assault on a U.S. airbase. Duffy was wounded but refused to be evacuated during the April 1972 assault, calling in airstrikes and tending to wounded soldiers.

Biden on Tuesday also highlighted the service of Specialist 5th Class Dennis Fujii, who was the crew chief aboard a helicopter ambulance during a rescue operation in February 1971. His helicopter took enemy fire and crash landed, but Fujii declined to be evacuated himself and administered first aid to allies wounded on the ground for 17 hours.

The president posthumously gave the Medal of Honor to Staff Sgt. Edward Kaneshiro, who in December 1966 fought off multiple enemy groups with a rifle and grenades, allowing for a successful withdrawal of his fellow soldiers from the village of Phu Huu 2. Kaneshiro died in March 1967 from an enemy gunshot wound.

Kaneshiro’s son was in attendance on Tuesday to accept the honor on his father’s behalf.

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