Colonel Billie Ray Wood
Colonel Wood, Mena, U.S. Army, Viet Nam. Awards include the Legion of Merit Medal, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Army Soldier’s Medal, the Bronze Star Medal for exceptionally meritorious combat achievement, two Meritorious Service Medals. twenty-two Air Medals, and three Army Commendation Medals.
Colonel Wood's Soldiers Medal was awarded to him on 16 June 1967 while assigned to the 174th Aviation Company. The citation reads: "For heroism not involving actual conflict with an armed enemy. First Lieutenant Wood distinguished himself by heroic action and personal bravery on 16 June 1967, near Duc Pho, Republic of Vietnam. Lieutenant Wood, the aircraft commander of a UH-1D helicopter, was just taking off from a pick-up zone when the helicopter to his rear exploded and burned. He immediately landed his aircraft and took up a fire extinguisher and, with complete disregard for his personal safety, ran to the burning aircraft and attempted to extinguish the fire which was rapidly enveloping the engine and cargo compartments. As the fire continued to spread, he entered the inflamed passenger and crew compartments and began pulling the occupants from the aircraft. He returned time and time again until all passengers and crew had been removed to safety. As he was carrying the last person to safety, the ammunition inside the burning aircraft began exploding. In spite of this, he returned to his own aircraft and hovered in a position between the burning helicopter and the wounded; whereupon, after all the wounded were loaded, he rushed them to an aid station. Through Lieutenant Wood’s courage and determination, all personnel were removed from the burning aircraft and evacuated to a medical facility when time was of essence. Due directly to his quick thinking and exceptional bravery, the lives of several persons were undoubtedly saved. Lieutenant Wood’s heroic actions and unselfish concern for the lives of his fellow soldiers are in keeping with the finest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, Task Force Oregon, and the United States Army."
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