LTCOL Walter R. Ledbetter USMC

navy cross

The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting
Lieutenant Colonel Walter R. Ledbetter, 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 Walter R. Ledbetter, Jr. (0-63973), Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism as Commanding Officer of Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron TWO HUNDRED SIXTY-THREE (HMM-263), Marine Aircraft Group SIXTEEN, First Marine Aircraft Wing, during operations against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam. On the morning of 31 January 1970, Lieutenant Colonel Ledbetter launched as flight leader of three helicopters assigned to transport assault teams during a Marine heliborne assault mission in Quang Nam Province. While carrying out his mission, he received an urgent request to assist elements of a platoon which had inadvertently entered a minefield while attacking enemy positions, and had sustained several casualties. Realizing that the Marines stood little chance of survival in their helpless position, Lieutenant Colonel Ledbetter, ignoring sporadic sniper fire from a tree line, cautiously maneuvered his helicopter to a landing in a small crater created by the explosion of one of the mines and remained in his perilous position until the casualties in that area were embarked. He then air taxied fifty meters to the second group of Marines and, undaunted by the extreme danger of landing in a mined area with only his main mount touching the area cleared by the detonated mine, carefully executed a landing. As the injured were being placed aboard, another mine exploded close to his aircraft, damaging the rotor system and aft pylon area. With complete disregard for his own safety, Lieutenant Colonel Ledbetter remained in his precarious position until all of the remaining Marines were aboard his aircraft, then lifted out of the hazardous area and departed for the hospital at DaNang. By his courage, superb airmanship, and inspiring devotion to duty in the face of great personal danger, Lieutenant Colonel Ledbetter was instrumental in saving the lives of several of his fellow Marines, and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.


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