2/LT Donald Joseph Berger USMC

navy cross

The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting
Second Lieutenant Donald Joseph Berger, United States Marine Corps
For service as set forth in the following


The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Donald Joseph Berger (0-64100), Second Lieutenant, U.S. Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism while serving as an Aircraft Commander with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron ONE HUNDRED SIXTY-THREE (HMM-163), First Marine Aircraft Wing, in operations in the Republic of Vietnam on 11 and 12 March 1966. Lieutenant Berger was assigned to participate in a mission to evacuate a large number of American and Vietnamese personnel from the besieged garrison at A Shau. Controlling his aircraft with exceptional skill, he hovered over the trees thirty to fifty feet tall while the stranded personnel were hoisted aboard. After discharging the passengers at Heu Phu Bai, Lieutenant Berger returned to A Shau and was directed to another clearing where two Special Forces personnel and six Vietnamese soldiers awaited rescue. Since jungle growth prevented landing, he was attempting to hoist the defenders aboard when hostile automatic weapons fire damaged the tail pylon of his aircraft, causing complete loss of tail rotor control. Exhibiting great presence of mind, Lieutenant Berger effected a controlled crash landing and promptly instructed the copilot and one of the crewmembers to board another rescue helicopter. Due to the darkness and inclement weather precluding further rescue attempts, he calmly guided the outpost defenders through difficult terrain where they encountered and successfully fought off an enemy patrol. After putting a defensive plan into action and maintaining a watch throughout the night, he moved the group to another location at first light, then signaled for help and succeeded in getting a rescue aircraft to hoist the exhausted men aboard. His stalwart effort was directly responsible for saving his crewmen, as well as the group of outpost survivors, from capture or death at the hands of the Viet Cong. By his intrepid fighting spirit, brilliant initiative and fortitude in the face of grave danger, and unfaltering dedication to duty, Lieutenant Berger upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service.


Return to Navy Cross