SGT Kenneth A. Altazan, USMC

navy cross

The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting
Sergeant Kenneth A. Altazan, United States Marine Corps
For service as set forth in the following


The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Sergeant Kenneth A. Altazan, United States Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism in action while serving with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron THREE HUNDRED SIXTY-FOUR (HMM-364), Marine Aircraft Group Sixteen, First Marine Aircraft Wing in connection with combat operations against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam. On 9 May 1969, Sergeant Altazan launched as Crew Chief aboard the lead aircraft in a flight of two CH-46 transport helicopters assigned the emergency medical evacuation of ten casualties from a Marine company which was heavily engaged in combat with a large North Vietnamese Army force near the village of MY Hiep (3) in Quang Nam Province. Arriving over the designated area, he was informed that the wounded Marines were located in five separate positions scattered about the open rice paddies and that the proximity of the opposing forces precluded the delivery of suppressive fire by supporting aircraft. Undaunted by the extremely heavy volume of enemy small arms and automatic weapons fire directed at his helicopter, Sergeant Altazan alertly located and reported the sources of hostile fire, provided a continuous flow of vital clearance information as his CH-46 was air-taxied at low altitude above the rice paddies to each of the casualty collection points, and then assisted in embarking the wounded Marines. When his aircraft landed in the fifth zone, he saw that one of the casualties would be unable to move unless assisted. With complete disregard for his own safety, Sergeant Altazan boldly leaped from his helicopter, ran to the side of the wounded man, lifted him to his shoulders, and fearlessly moved back across the fire-swept terrain toward his CH-46, all the while assisting another evacuee across the perilous open area. When he fell under the weight of his wounded comrade, he wrenched his knee but quickly rose to his feet and, despite excruciating pain, resolutely limped the remaining distance to the helicopter with his heavy load. His bold initiative and selfless concern for his fellow Marines inspired all who observed him and were instrumental in accomplishing the hazardous mission. By his courage, superior professionalism, and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of great personal danger, Sergeant Altazan upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service.

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