Medal of Honor
PLESS, STEPHEN W.
Rank and organization. Major (then Capt.), U.S. Marine Corps, VMO-6, Mag-36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing
Place and date: Near Quang Nai, Republic of Vietnam, 19 August 1967
Entered service at: Atlanta, Georgia
Born: 6 September 1939, Newnan, Georgia
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a helicopter gunship pilot attached to Marine Observation Squadron 6 in action against enemy forces. During an escort mission Maj. Pless monitored an emergency call that 4 American soldiers stranded on a nearby beach were being overwhelmed by a large Viet Cong force. Maj. Pless flew to the scene and found 30 to 50 enemy soldiers in the open. Some of the enemy were bayonetting and beating the downed Americans. Maj. Pless displayed exceptional airmanship as he launched a devastating attack against the enemy force, killing or wounding many of the enemy and driving the remainder back into a tree line. His rocket and machine gun attacks were made at such low levels that the aircraft flew through debris created by explosions from its rockets. Seeing 1 of the wounded soldiers gesture for assistance, he maneuvered his helicopter into a position between the wounded men and the enemy, providing a shield which permitted his crew to retrieve the wounded. During the rescue the enemy directed intense fire at the helicopter and rushed the aircraft again and again, closing to within a few feet before being beaten back. When the wounded men were aboard, Maj. Pless maneuvered the helicopter out to sea. Before it became safely airborne, the overloaded aircraft settled 4 times into the water. Displaying superb airmanship, he finally got the helicopter aloft. Major Pless' extraordinary heroism coupled with his outstanding flying skill prevented the annihilation of the tiny force. His courageous actions reflect great credit upon himself and uphold the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the U.S. Naval Service.
Thanks to Rodney L. Pless < c11thtee@Adelphia.net >, Stephen Pless' uncle, for the above photo.
Thanks to MGySGT George T. Curtis USMC (RET) Feb 66 - June 91, for the above photo
Viet Nam L/CPL Crew Chef UH-34s HMM-363 Nov 67 - Dec - 68
Viet Nam CPL & SGT Crew Chief & Quality Assurance HML-367 Jan 69 Feb 71
Grenada MSGT Crew Chief UH-1Ns & Flight Line Chief HMM-261 Oct 1983
Beirut MSGT Crew Chief UH-1Ns & Flight Line Chief HMM-261 Oct 1983-March 84
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