MARINE OF THE WEEK // VALOR IN VIETNAM:

Sgt. Kenneth Altazan

Marine Medium Helicopter Sqn. 364

Quang Nam, Vietnam

Award: Navy Cross

On May 9, 1969, Sgt. Altazan serving as the crew chief on the lead aircraft of two CH-46 transport helicopters assigned to extract more than 10 Marines that were heavily engaged in combat with the North Vietnamese Army. While originally planning to land the helicopter twice to rescue the injured, the aircraft immediately came under heavy fire and scattered the wounded Marines. Undaunted, Altazan directed his crew to extract the dispersed Marines from five locations, touching the helicopter down each time. At the second extraction location, Altazan saw a Marine evacuating a casualty get shot and fall to the ground. He ran to them, lifted one onto his shoulder and grabbed the other by the arm and began to haul them to the helicopter. In the midst of his rescue effort, an enemy bullet hit the Marine he was carry causing all three to hit the ground, injuring Altazan’s knee. Altazan got up and continued to carry the Marines to safety. Landing the helicopter at the fifth zone, dangerously close to the enemy’s position, Altazan noticed another Marine casualty in the distance. Again, Altazan jumped out of the helicopter. Running out of time and in significant pain, he pulled off his heavy body armor and ran to the Marine. Upon arrival, he discovered two wounded Marines. He pulled one over his shoulder and dragged the other by his belt approximately 30 meters to the safety of the helicopter. For his heroism, Altazan originally received a Silver Star. His award was recently upgraded to the Navy Cross. (Photos courtesy of Jim Reed, Bill Feig)

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12 thoughts on “MARINE OF THE WEEK // VALOR IN VIETNAM:”

  1. Ahhh, how fondly I remember the days of HMM-364 and it’s original foray into the beautiful little country in SE Asia. Then flying the H-34 Sikorsky without even seatpan armor. Anyone who flew one of those in the day of the first US unit into South Vietnam (1st Marine Brigade, out of Kaneohe) deserves the Navy Cross.

  2. Such a great story and an amazing Marine going above and beyond. Thank you to him and leading from the front.
    Semper Fidelis

  3. I thought the award that was given was a terrible injustice. His actions that day deserved consideration for the Medal of Honor. Some justice has finally been done! Semper Fi

  4. A true American HERO!
    I was in country on that day K Co 3/9. As a GRUNT I especially appreciate this HERO’s actions.
    A perfect example of leave no Marine behind!
    Semper Fi!

  5. A very special Marine willing to give his life to save others, those brothers he saved must be watching over him now. Semper-Fi

  6. A marine never leave its wounded or death behind,

    Semper Fi

    Lcpl Ramirez
    1/4 marines 3rd Marine Division
    Quang Tri Providence
    1969

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