Special Operations Memorial Foundation

Michael E. Thornton

Michael E. Thornton

U.S. Navy

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while participating in a daring operation against enemy forces. Petty Officer Michael E. Thornton, as Assistant U.S. Navy Advisor, along with a U.S. Navy lieutenant serving as Senior Advisor, accompanied a 3-man Vietnamese Navy SEAL patrol on an intelligence gathering and prisoner capture operation against an enemy-occupied naval river base. Launched from a Vietnamese Navy junk in a rubber boat, the patrol reached land and was continuing on foot toward its objective when it suddenly came under heavy fire from a numerically superior force. The patrol called in naval gunfire support and then engaged the enemy in a fierce firefight, accounting for many enemy casualties before moving back to the waterline to prevent encirclement. Upon learning that the Senior Advisor had been hit by enemy fire and was believed to be dead, PO Thornton returned through a hail of fire to the lieutenant's last position; quickly disposed of 2 enemy soldiers about to overrun the position, and succeeded in removing the seriously wounded and unconscious Senior Naval Advisor to the water's edge. He then inflated the lieutenant's lifejacket and towed him seaward for approximately 2 hours until picked up by support craft. By his extraordinary courage and perseverance, PO Thornton was directly responsible for saving the life of his superior officer and enabling the safe extraction of all patrol members, thereby upholding the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval ServiceFIRST LIEUTENANT GEORGE K. SISLER, UNITED STATES ARMY, United States Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, Studies and Observations Group, was the platoon leader/advisor to a special U.S./Vietnamese force. On 7 February 1967, while on patrol deep within enemy territory in Laos, Lieutenant Sisler"s platoon was attacked from three sides by a company-sized enemy force. He quickly rallied his men, deploying them to a defensive position, and moved among his men to encourage and direct their efforts. Learning that two men had been wounded and were unable to pull back to the perimeter, Lieutenant Sisler charged from the position through intense enemy fire to assist them. He began carrying one of them back to the perimeter when he was taken under intensive automatic weapon fire. Laying down his wounded comrade, he killed three onrushing soldiers by firing his rifle and then silenced the enemy machine gun with a grenade. As he returned the wounded men to the perimeter, the left flank came under heavy attack by superior enemy forces and several additional men of his platoon were wounded. Realizing the need to prevent his position from being overrun, Lieutenant Sisler picked up some grenades and charged single-handedly into the enemy onslaught, firing and throwing grenades. This heroic action broke up the vicious assault and forced the enemy to begin withdrawing. Despite enemy fire, First Lieutenant Sisler was moving about the battle directing air strikes when he fell mortally wounded. His extraordinary leadership, infinite courage and selfless concern for his men saved the lives of a number of his comrades' WHERE `ID` = 739; UPDATE `specialopsmemorial`.`tblwall` SET `Description` = 'For conspicuous gallantry in action at the risk of his own life and above and beyond the call of duty, Staff Sergeant Miller distinguished himself while serving as a team leader of an American-Vietnamese long range reconnaissance patrol operating deep within enemy controlled territory. Leaving the helicopter insertion point, the patrol moved forward on its mission. Suddenly, one of the team members tripped a hostile booby trap, wounding four soldiers. Staff Sergeant Miller, knowing that the explosion would alert the enemy, quickly administered first aid to the wounded and directed the team into positions across a small stream bed at the base of a steep hill. Within a few minutes, Staff Sergeant Miller saw the lead elements of what he estimated to be a platoon-sized enemy force moving towards his location. Concerned for the safety of his men, he directed the small team to move up the hill to a more secure position. He remained alone, separated from the patrol, to meet the attack. Staff Sergeant Miller singlehandedly repulsed two determined attacks by the numerically superior enemy force and caused them to withdraw in disorder. He rejoined his team, established contact with a forward air controller and arranged the evacuation of his patrol. However, the only suitable extraction location in the heavy jungle was a bomb crater some 150 meters from the team location. Staff Sergeant Miller reconnoitered the route to the crater and led his men through the enemy controlled jungle to the extraction site. As the evacuation helicopter hovered over the crater to pick up the patrol, the enemy launched a savage attack against the beleaguered team, driving off the rescue helicopter. Staff Sergeant Miller led the team in a valiant defense which drove back the enemy in its attempt to overrun the small patrol. Although seriously wounded and with every man in his patrol a casualty, Staff Sergeant Miller gallantly repelled two attacks by the enemy before a friendly relief force reached the patrol location. Staff Sergeant Miller"s gallantry, intrepidity in action, and selfless devotion to the welfare of his comrades are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service, and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the U.S. Army.

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