Sergeant First Class Mike Wade Gunnels
Sergeant First Class Gunnels, deceased, of Magnolia served over 39 years in the Army and earned a Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart Medal for combat wounds, and an Air Medal during the Vietnam War.
Drafted into the Army on December 3rd, 1970, SFC Mike W Gunnels, was honorably served in the United States Army for 39 years. From June 1971 to February 1972 he distinguished himself by his meritorious service in connection with the military operation against hostile forces in the Republic of Vietnam earning him a Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and an Air Medal. But his military contributions did not stop there. While serving in the Louisiana Army National Guard SFC Gunnels has been a part of just about every state Aviation Mission of Emergency Operations since 1986 to include but not limited to Hurricane Andrew, Katrina, Gustav, and wildfires spanning from Louisiana to California. He has served multiple roles in multiple units doing whatever his country has asked of him. But no matter what role he is serving in, SFC Gunnels served it with distinction and always inspired younger soldiers with his devotion and can-do attitude.
On 14th July 2006, SFC Gunnels received the Louisiana Cross of Merit. for the following achievements Sergeant Gunnels participated in over two hundred and four hours of aerial flight over hurricane torn New Orleans in support of emergency relief and rescue operations, the proximity of downed power lines, damaged poles and trees, urban debris, fires, over 121 aircraft, and moving water added to the extremely hazardous conditions. He participated in moving 482 evacuees by air to safety and rescuing 140 for men, women, and children from flooded areas by using the high-performance rescue hoist. He participated in several support missions delivering food and water to victims of the disaster. He operated the high-performance hoist to precisely place the flight medic on roofs, on vehicles and between hazards to rescue individuals; without once placing the flight medics in the water or in harm's way.
The citation reads as follows: For exceptionally meritorious achievement while participating in aerial medical evacuation and rescue operations in hurricane ravaged urban areas of New Orleans, Louisiana between 30 August 2005 through 05 September 2005. Staff Sergeant Gunnels consistently performed his duties with distinction without regard to the hazardous conditions. As a crew chief, Sergeant Gunnels performed his hoist skills and crew member duties without hesitation and with superior airmanship. Sergeant Gunnels’ loyalty, diligence, and devotion to duty and mission reflect great credit upon himself, that 812th Medical Company, the Louisiana National Guard, and the United States Army.
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