The bipartisan bill, if adopted, would award the Congressional Gold Medal to Dustoff crewmembers – the helicopter pilots, crew chiefs, and medics responsible for evacuating more than 900,000 U.S., Vietnamese, and allied forces during the nearly eleven year long period between May 1962 to March 1973.
“During the Vietnam War, millions of Americans left home to fight in muddy trenches and jungles halfway around the world,” said Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane, in a statement. “Many made the ultimate sacrifice. Others returned home just to be ostracized and ridiculed. Some were never recognized for their service at all. That’s exactly what happened to the Dustoff crewmembers who risked their lives to save nearly one million others. They were some of the very best, and their heroism deserves to be recognized.”
“Each medal honors a particular individual, institution, or event,” the archive states.
The first recipient of the award, handed out by the Continental Congress on the 25th of March 1776, was none other than George Washington.
To date, few Vietnam war veterans have been awarded a Congressional Gold Medal.
Bill co-sponsor Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, wants to correct this oversight.
“Years after the end of the Vietnam War, too many Vietnam veterans have not been sufficiently recognized for their service and sacrifice,” said Kilmer in a statement. “That remains true for the members of the Dustoff crews – who valiantly rescued so many. Awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to the Dustoff crews of the Vietnam War will be an important step toward recognizing the pivotal role that these service members played in saving lives and serving their country proudly. I’ll keep pushing to ensure we demonstrate our appreciation on behalf of a grateful nation.”
The prior version of the bill from the 117th congress died in committee without being passed on for a vote.