Medal of Honor For Dennis M. Fujii, 51 Years Later

There was never any doubt about the courage and the heroism that Spc 5 Dennis M. Fujii demonstrated those 51 years ago. The Hawaiian-born veteran was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) for his actions in treating and defending a small force of South Vietnamese allies during a fierce battle just across the border in Laos over a period of 5 days, from February 18 to February 22, 1971. But what he did there deserved more than the DSC. That was rectified last week when he and three other Vietnam War veterans were awarded the Medal of Honor by President Biden at the White House.

What Fujii did over those several days is a true example of courage beyond the call of duty. The chaos of war threw him into responsibilities that were outside of his normal mission, and he had to adapt to his situation on the fly. You see, Fujii’s regular MOS with the 237th Medical Detachmet, 61st Medical Bn., 67th Medical Group, was as a crew chief on one of their medevac helicopters. On the 18th of February, 1971, his helicopter and crew were on a mission to evacuate seriously wounded allied South Vietnamese military personnel from a fierce battle across the border in Laos.

Photo: YouTube/KITV

When they got over the battlefield, they started receiving intense fire from the enemy forces attacking the small South Vietnamese unit. His helicopter was shot down as it approached the landing area. He and the pilot and co-pilot were wounded. A second medevac helicopter was able to land and take on the two pilots, but as Fujii tried to get on, the enemy laid down a massive volley of fire at him and the helicopter. He waved off the helicopter to save the lives of his pilots and those on that helicopter. Several other attempts were made to get him, but the enemy fire was both too intense and too accurate, and they were unable to get to Fujii. He got a radio and told them that the place was too hot for any further attempts.

Photo: YouTube/KITV

Fujii remained with the South Vietnamese (RVN) unit as the only American for the next three days. He was now in the war in a way he had never imagined. He continued to care for the wounded as the enemy continued its attacks on the small RVN unit. The following day, the enemy, now a reinforced regiment in size, made a determined effort to overwhelm the RVN unit that Fujii was with. The attack was supported by artillery. Fujii got hold of a radio again and started calling for helicopter gunship aerial support.

For the next 17 hours, though wounded and now on the edge of collapse from exhaustion, Fujii exposed himself over and over again to observe enemy positions and to direct the supporting fire from the helicopter gunships. On several occasions, he had to drop the hand mike of the radio in mid-communication in order to lay down suppressing fire at the enemy with his own rifle. He continued to help the wounded and defend their position against the fierce assaults of the enemy.

Photo: YouTube/KITV

By this time, he was beyond fatigued. On the 20th of February, a helicopter was finally able to get in under the heavy fire and pick him up, but it too was hit by fire and was forced to make a crash landing at another South Vietnamese Ranger Base about four kilometers away. He would remain there until the 22nd before being medevaced himself to the rear for medical care. And, oh yeah, there is one piece of information that is important here as well. When all of this happened to Spc 5 Fujii, he was 19 years old.

You will meet this humble man in this video that was filmed by a local TV News station in Honolulu, Hawaii. The Veterans Site adds it thanks and respect for Spc 5 Dennis M. Fujii on the awarding of the Medal of Honor. You are a model for all who serve and for all Americans.

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