Gary M Rose

Gary M Rose


Gary was born on the 17th of October, 1947, in Watertown, New York. His family moved to California and he would attend and graduated from James Monroe High School in Northridge, California, in 1965. Two years later, on the 4th of April, 1967, Gary avoided being drafted in to the US Marine Corps by volunteering for the US Army. His father had been in the Marine Corps during World War 2 and was the one that had suggested to Gary to not be a Marine Corps draftee.

Gary went to basic training at Fort Ord in California and then transferred to advanced individual training at Fort Gordon in Georgia. After graduating, he was promoted to Private First Class and was then sent to the US Army Airborne School. In October of 1967, Gary began Special Forces training at Fort Bragg and graduated a year later as a medic. He was first assigned to the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) and in order to be able to choose where he wanted to serve, Gary reenlisted and was assigned to the 46th Special Forces Company in Lopburi, Thailand, where he trained Thai soldiers and border police medics.

A little over a year later, Gary requested to be transferred to the Republic of Vietnam. He was assigned to the Military Assistance Command – Studies and Observations Group. The 5th Special Forces Group (Ariborne) provided administrative support and he was at Forward Operating Base II in Kontum, where he treated the wounded and local civilians. Gary was wounded on his first mission in June of 1970, for which he received his first Purple Heart and Bronze Star for his actions. A few months later, on the 11th of September, he, along with a company sized force of Americans, Vietnamese, and Montagnards, were inserted about 70 kilometers inside Laos for Operation Tailwind. It was his actions during the days that followed that would earn him the Medal of Honor. The citation reads:

Sergeant Gary M. Rose distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity while serving as a Special Forces Medic with a company-sized exploitation force, Special Operations Augmentation, Command and Control Central, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces, Republic of Vietnam.

Between 11 and 14 September 1970, Sergeant Rose’s company was continuously engaged by a well-armed and numerically superior hostile force deep in enemy-controlled territory. Enemy B-40 rockets and mortar rounds rained down while the adversary sprayed the area with small arms and machine gun fire, wounding many and forcing everyone to seek cover.

Sergeant Rose, braving the hail of bullets, sprinted fifty meters to a wounded soldier’s side. He then used his own body to protect the casualty from further injury while treating his wounds. After stabilizing the casualty, Sergeant Rose carried him through the bullet-ridden combat zone to protective cover.

As the enemy accelerated the attack, Sergeant Rose continuously exposed himself to intense fire as he fearlessly moved from casualty to casualty, administering life-saving aid.

A B-40 rocket impacted just meters from Sergeant Rose, knocking him from his feet and injuring his head, hand, and foot. Ignoring his wounds, Sergeant Rose struggled to his feet and continued to render aid to the other injured soldiers.

During an attempted medevac, Sergeant Rose again exposed himself to enemy fire as he attempted to hoist wounded personnel up to the hovering helicopter, which was unable to land due to unsuitable terrain.

The medevac mission was aborted due to intense enemy fire and the helicopter crashed a few miles away due to the enemy fire sustained during the attempted extraction.

Over the next two days, Sergeant Rose continued to expose himself to enemy fire in order to treat the wounded, estimated to be half of the company’s personnel. On September 14, during the company’s eventual helicopter extraction, the enemy launched a full-scale offensive.

Sergeant Rose, after loading wounded personnel on the first set of extraction helicopters, returned to the outer perimeter under enemy fire, carrying friendly casualties and moving wounded personnel to more secure positions until they could be evacuated. He then returned to the perimeter to help repel the enemy until the final extraction helicopter arrived. As the final helicopter was loaded, the enemy began to overrun the company’s position, and the helicopter’s Marine door gunner was shot in the neck.

Sergeant Rose instantly administered critical medical treatment onboard the helicopter, saving the Marine’s life. The helicopter carrying Sergeant Rose crashed several hundred meters from the extraction point, further injuring Sergeant Rose and the personnel on board.

Despite his numerous wounds from the past three days, Sergeant Rose continued to pull and carry unconscious and wounded personnel out of the burning wreckage and continued to administer aid to the wounded until another extraction helicopter arrived.

Sergeant Rose’s extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty were critical to saving numerous lives over that four-day time period. His actions are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, the 1st Special Forces, and the United States Army.

Throughout those four days, Gary was credited with treating between sixty and seventy wounded and only three Montagnards died during the Operation. Originally, Gary was nominated for the Medal of Honor, however, the Operation was classified and awarding the Medal would bring attention to it so he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross instead on the 16th of January, 1971. Once Gary's tour in Vietnam had ended, he was sent to the Spanish Language School in Washington DC and he then decided to attend Officer Candidate School. This would mean extending his contract and would allow him to bring his new wife, Margaret, with him to Panama. Gary was assigned to the 8thSpecial Forces Group in Panama and in August of 1973, he was selected to attend OCS at Fort Benning.

Four months later, Gary was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Field Artillery and went on to attend the Field Artillery Officer Basic Course at Fort Sill. Gary also graduated from Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma, in December of 1977 with a Bachelor of Arts in Education and Military Science. After completing the Field Artillery Officer Advanced Course, he was assigned to positions in Germany, New Mexico, South Korea, and Fort Sill before retiring from the Army in May of 1987 at the rank of Captain. Gary graduated from the University of Oklahoma in December of 1989 with a Master of Arts in Communication and went on to work as a writer of operator, user, and maintenance manuals and as a training designer for the manufacturing industry before retiring in 2010.

Let's now go back to when I said that Gary's actions were downgraded to the Distinguished Service Cross. This was because of the classified nature of Operation Tailwind and in 1998, a report done by CNN and Time Magazine said that the Operation was a mission to kill American defectors and that sarin gas was used on civilians. Veterans of the mission were called to the Pentagon in late June of 1998 for interviews and Gary was one of these veterans. These claims were refuted and the story written by CNN and Time was concluded to be incorrect and it was retracted. Soon after, the veterans began an initiative to get their comrades' actions during the Operation recognized properly. Gary was told in 2013 that his award was going to have a request to upgrade, which was approved in 2016. His name was then written into the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 and on the 23rd of October, 2017, Gary received the Medal of Honor from President Trump in a ceremony at the White House. Gary Michael Rose is seventy-one years old and he and his wife Margaret have two daughters, Claire and Sarah, and a son, Michael.

Britt K Slabinski

Britt K Slabinski

Richard A Pittman

Richard A Pittman