LT Neil R. Sparks, Jr. USN
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting
The NAVY CROSS to
LT Neil R. Sparks, Jr., United States Navy
For service as set forth in the following
For extraordinary heroism in aerial flight on 17 July 1967 as aircraft commander of an armored helicopter in Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron TWO, during a search and rescue mission over North Vietnam. Lieutenant Sparks courageously penetrated the coastal defenses of North Vietnam to rescue a downed naval aviator in a heavily defended area thirty miles south of Hanoi. Although the helicopter was hit by intense and accurate enemy fire, disabling the radios, automatic stabilization equipment, and airspeed indicator, he skillfully hovered for twenty minutes until the survivor was safely hoisted aboard. Under intense antiaircraft fire, Lieutenant Sparks, through adept maneuvering, prevented further damage to the helicopter during the flight back to the coastline. Two and one-half hours after penetrating the coastal defense over North Vietnam, and having traveled two hundred miles over heavily-fortified hostile territory, he brought his crew and the downed aviator to safety. By his courageous actions, exceptional skill and fearless devotion to duty, Lieutenant Sparks prevented the capture by hostile forces of a fellow aviator, thereby upholding the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
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