Four Vietnam Veterans Awarded the Medal of Honor

July 12, 2022

VVA Applauds the Recognition of Four Vietnam Veterans
Awarded the Medal of Honor
(Washington, D.C.) — “Vietnam Veterans of America commends President Joseph Biden for
yesterday’s recognition of the incredible acts of heroism of four U.S. Army Vietnam veterans by
upgrading their previous awards to the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military medal for
valor and bravery,” said VVA National President Jack McManus.

Of the 66 surviving Medal of Honor recipients today, 48 are Vietnam veterans. Our Vietnam Medal of Honor recipients represent an entire generation of Vietnam servicemembers who waited
too long to receive the welcome home and the recognition they deserved,” McManus said. “And
while this public acknowledgement of these heroes is long overdue, coming half a century after
these soldiers left these fields of battle, it’s also vital to keep remembering all those military
servicemembers who put everything on the line to defend our nation and our values.”

“The story of each of these men is truly inspirational,” McManus added. “They embody the men
and women who enter our armed forces, prepared to give their lives. This official gesture toward
setting the record straight is one way that we can honor them and remember their service.”

Staff Sergeant Edward N. Kaneshiro received his posthumous MOH for actions while serving as
an infantry squad leader with Troop C, 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division, near Phu
Huu 2, Kim Son Valley, Republic of Vietnam. On Dec. 1, 1966, while on a search and destroy
mission, the squad was attacked. Sgt. Kaneshiro destroyed one enemy group with rifle fire and
two others with grenades, enabling the orderly extrication and reorganization of the platoon and
ultimately leading to a successful withdrawal from the village.

SP5 Dwight W. Birdwell’s MOH recognizes his actions while serving with Troop C, 3rd
Squadron, 4th Cavalry, 25th Infantry Division, in the Republic of Vietnam on January 31, 1968.
Tan Son Nhut Airbase was under attack, and the enemy disabled or destroyed many of the unit’s
vehicles, including SP5 Birdwell’s tank commander. Under heavy enemy small-arms fire, he first
fired the tank’s weapons and then dismounted and continued fighting until receiving enemy fire
to his face and torso. SP5 Birdwell remembers, “I stood on top of my tank with my M-16 rifle to
fire at the enemy. I didn’t want to die, but I wanted to do my job.” After refusing evacuation to
lead a small group of defenders to disrupt the enemy assault, Spec. 5 Birdwell finally boarded a
medevac helicopter, only to crawl out the other side to continue aiding in evacuating the wounded
until he was ordered to seek attention for his own wounds.

SP5 Dennis M. Fujii received the MOH for his actions while serving as crew chief aboard a
helicopter ambulance during rescue operations in Laos and the Republic of Vietnam from
February 18-22, 1971. During a mission to evacuate seriously wounded Vietnamese military
personnel, SP5 Fujii’s medevac helicopter took on enemy fire and was forced to crash
land. Although injured, he waved off a rescue from another helicopter and remained behind as
the only American on the battlefield. During that night and the next day, although wounded, he
administered first aid to allied casualties. On the night of February 19, he called in American
helicopter gunships to assist in repelling an enemy attack. For more than 17 hours, he repeatedly
exposed himself to hostile fire as he left the security of his entrenchment to better observe enemy
troop positions and to direct air strikes against them until an American helicopter could attempt
to airlift him from the area.

Major John J. Duffy received the MOH for his actions while serving as senior advisor to the 11th
Airborne Battalion, 2nd Brigade, Airborne Division, Army of the Republic of Vietnam, from
April 14-15, 1972. Two days earlier, the commander of the 11th Airborne Battalion had been
killed, the battalion command post destroyed, and Major Duffy was twice wounded. The only
American left with a squad of South Vietnamese soldiers, he refused an order to evacuate, telling
his superiors, “I will be the last man out.” For the next 48 hours, despite additional injuries, Major
Duffy continued directing operations and fighting. After an enemy ambush, he led evacuees,
many wounded, to an evacuation area. Only after ensuring all evacuees were aboard the
helicopters he had called in, did he board as well.