History will record the actions of the men of the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment in 1965 as one of the most heroic efforts in American warfare. The story of their life and death struggle in the Ia Drang Valley was masterfully told by Lieutenant General Hal Moore and Joseph Galloway in the book “We Were Soldiers Once – And Young”. The book later became the Mel Gibson movie “We Were Soldiers”.
One of the many heroes of this battle was then-Major Bruce Crandall. Crandall was a pilot and the leader of a group of helicopters that re-supplied the beleaguered unit and extracted its casualties. Much of this effort took place under fire and many of the men in those helicopters were killed or wounded in their efforts to help the infantrymen.
When Hal Moore recommended Crandall for the Medal of Honor, he said the pilot’s efforts prevented a bloody massacre of the First Cavalry soldiers. Such a catastrophic defeat would have rivaled the deaths of George Armstrong Custer and his 7th Cavalry at the Little Big Horn.
Bruce Crandall will be presented with the Medal of Honor today in a ceremony in the White House. The military’s highest honor is a little late, but it is well-deserved by this great American warrior.
SFC Chuck Grist