Medal of Honor for Major John J. Duffy

A recurring theme in Duffy’s new MOH award statement is repeatedly taking on more responsibility to benefit others, courageously disregarding self, a remarkably caring leader even under the most extreme pressure even from an enemy battalion.

In the two days preceding the events of 14 to 15 April 1972, the commander of the 11th Airborne Battalion was killed, the battalion command post was destroyed, and Major Duffy was twice wounded but refused to be evacuated. Then on 14 April, Major Duffy directed the defense of Fire Support Base Charlie, which was surrounded by a battalion-size enemy element. […] With the goal of a complete withdrawal, Major Duffy was the last man off the base, remaining behind to adjust the covering fire from gunships until the last possible moment. When the acting battalion commander was wounded, he assumed command of the evacuation and maintained communication with the available air support to direct fire on the enemy. […] Only after ensuring all of the evacuees were aboard, did Major Duffy board while also assisting a wounded friendly foreign soldier in with him. Once on board, he administered aid to a helicopter door gunner who had been wounded during the evacuation.

I would argue this is the definition of “type A” personality, to give up anything so that others may have something.

The Army page points out Duffy was very highly decorated for his four years in Vietnam, including 1972 special advisor for Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV) Team 162 “Red Hats”; and for his poetry.

…honored with 64 awards and decorations, 29 of which are for valor, including the Distinguished Service Cross (currently in final stages to an upgrade), the Soldier’s Medal, four Bronze Stars with “Valor” device, eight Purple Hearts, seven Air Medals (six with “Valor” device), three Army Commendation Medals with “Valor” device, the Cross of Gallantry with Palm (Vietnam’s highest award for valor), two Crosses of Gallantry with Silver Stars, one Presidential Unit Citation (Naval), three Presidential Unit Citations (Army), the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry w/Palm (Unit), the Vietnam Valorous Service Medal (Unit), the Combat Infantry Badge, Master Parachutist Wings, plus numerous other awards for service and merit. […] Duffy has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and has published six books of poetry. Two of his poems were selected to be inscribed on monuments, and others appear in countless publications and anthologies.

The Forward Air Controller
by John J. Duffy
Dedicated 2008 FAC Memorial Park
(With MOH Bud Day present)
Colorado Springs, CO

It is the lonely mission,
The Forward Air Controller.
His are the eyes above the battle.
His is the link to those below.

While others avoid and strike fast,
He lingers and trolls for contact,
Seeking out the enemy below,
Determining the strike force needed.

His is the job to control the air attack.
He determines the needs of the troops,
And works the airstrike margins.
His judgement is relied upon by all.

Watching a “FAC” roll in hot on target,
All guns blazing at his destruction,
Is to watch a man of courage in action.
This is the daily job of the “FAC”.

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