Jackson -- Lt Col Joe M Jackson
Published November 13, 2014
On May 12, 1968. Colonel Jackson. commander of an unarmed C-123 transport aircraft, flew from Da Nang to Kham Duc, South Vietnam, on an emergency mission. A Special Forces camp at Kham Duc was being overrun by enemy forces. They had taken the forward outpost and were in complete control of the air strip. Located in a valley, the airstrip was surrounded on all sides by mountainous terrain.
While orbiting over the battle area Colonel Jackson learned by radio that in the evacuation of the camp by air, a three-man Combat Control Team had inadvertently been left behind. Another C-123 transport was ahead of Colonel Jackson in the traffic pattern. The aircraft landed successfully on the airstrip littered with debris, including a wrecked helicopter, but failed to evacuate the team. Colonel Jackson then descended rapidly from 9,000 feet and made an assault landing on the strip under heavy enemy fire. After he stopped, a rocket fell in front of the transport. A dud, it bounced harmlessly toward the nose of the plane without exploding.
Colonel Jackson had landed near the spot where the three men had been reported to be hiding. With the team safely on board, he quickly took off under a mortar barrage and intense automatic weapons fire from the surrounding hills. After landing at Da Nang the crew found that not a single bullet had touched their aircraft during the entire flight.
Colonel Jackson was awarded the Medal of Honor for rescuing the three man team. The presentation was made by President Lyndon B. Johnson at the White House Jan. 16, 1969.
See the full citation from the Congressional Medal Of Honor Society website.
See the AFHSD publication: Air Force Heroes in Vietnam.