The Biography of Lt Col Bruce P Crandall

The biography of Lt Col Bruce P Crandall, a decorated United States Army helicopter pilot who served during the Vietnam War.

He is most famous for his heroic actions during the Battle of Ia Drang in 1965, where he flew his unarmed helicopter amid heavy enemy fire to evacuate wounded soldiers.

This biography offers a glimpse into the life and achievements of Lt Col Bruce P Crandall.

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Early Life and Education of Lt Col Bruce P Crandall

Bruce Perry Crandall was born on February 17, 1933, in Olympia, Washington.

He was the son of a World War I veteran and grew up with a deep sense of patriotism and service to his country.

Crandall attended the University of Washington, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1954.

During his time in college, he was a member of the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC), which would later lead to his commission as an officer in the United States Army.

Military Career

Crandall was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army in 1954 and began his military career as an artillery officer.

He later joined helicopter training and served as a pilot in Germany before his assignment to the 11th Air Assault Division, which later became the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile).

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Battle of Ia Drang

In November 1965, Crandall served as a helicopter pilot with the 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion in Vietnam.

On November 14, his unit was called upon to support the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, in heavy fighting with North Vietnamese forces in the Ia Drang Valley.

Crandall flew his unarmed helicopter, a UH-1D Huey, into the battle zone multiple times to evacuate wounded soldiers, despite heavy enemy fire.

On his fourth and final trip, Crandall decided to land his helicopter, despite the risk of being shot down.

He did this to evacuate a critically wounded soldier with the help of another helicopter pilot, Maj. Ed W. Freeman.

Crandall evacuated 70 wounded soldiers before flying out of the battle zone himself.

For his actions during the Battle of Ia Drang, Crandall received the Medal of Honor, the highest military decoration awarded by the United States government. His citation reads in part: “

Crandall’s bravery and daring courage saved the lives of many soldiers and greatly influenced the successful outcome of the battle.”

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Later Career and Legacy of Lt Col Bruce P Crandall

Crandall continued to serve in the Army for over 26 years, retiring as a lieutenant colonel in 1977.

In addition to the Medal of Honor, he received the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit, and numerous other awards and decorations for his service in Vietnam.

After his military career, Crandall worked as a civilian contractor for the U.S. Army, supporting helicopter training and operations.

He also served as the director of the Army Aviation Museum in Fort Rucker, Alabama. Crandall’s heroism during the Battle of Ia Drang was later depicted in the 2002 film.

We Were Soldiers, starring Mel Gibson as Lt. Col. Hal Moore, the commander of the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment. Actor Greg Kinnear portrayed Crandall in the film.

In 2007, Crandall was honored by the Washington State Legislature with a resolution commending him for his “heroism, dedication to duty, and exemplary service to his country.”

He also received the Association of the United States Army’s highest award, the George Catlett Marshall Medal, in 2009.


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