Medal of Honor Monday: USAF 1st Lt. James P. Fleming

by Guest Author Tara Ross

During this week in 1968, an Air Force helicopter pilot makes a daring rescue. When James P. Fleming rescued an Army Special Forces unit that day, he left enemy territory with one Army commando dangling from his helicopter by a rope!

Sounds like a scene from a movie, doesn’t it? One military historian has labeled Fleming’s heroics “one of the most dramatic rescues of the entire Vietnam War.”

On November 26, Fleming was dispatched on a mission to insert a Special Forces recon team (RT Chisel) deep into enemy territory. “Before you took off, you would brief, you would go over, and you would shake hands and hug,” Fleming later remembered, “the team members and the crew members. . . . What you’re doing is you’re saying, ‘I’m going to take you, and I’m going to put you out in the middle of hell. If you have to come home, I’ll bring you home.’ I’m telling him that. That’s my duty; it’s my honor. That’s what I do.”

Little did Fleming know that he’d end up putting his own life on the line in order to keep his unspoken promise that day.

Things were going smoothly at first. The recon team members were inserted safely, but they unfortunately ran into an ambush a few hours later. The team radioed back for an emergency extraction. A group of five Hueys immediately left to retrieve RT Chisel: two gunships and three “slicks.” Fleming was piloting one of the Huey slicks.

Unfortunately, one of the gunships was hit early in the rescue attempt. It went down, but its crew was quickly retrieved by one of the slicks. The slick left the area, carrying the rescued crew to safety. Another slick followed, as it was running low on fuel.

Thus, only two helicopters remained to extract RT Chisel: one gunship and Fleming’s slick. Fleming was worried about his fuel levels, too, but he knew that he couldn’t leave his men on the ground. He was their only hope.

The first attempt to rescue RT Chisel failed. The Vietnamese in the area opened a barrage of fire just as the Huey came in the area. The Special Forces team was forced away from the helicopter and back toward a river. The fire was so intense that the commander of RT Chisel radioed Fleming: “They’ve got us. Get out!”

The gunship was injured by then, but its pilot told Fleming that he would try one more pass before heading back. The gunship flew ahead, unloading fire in all directions. Fleming’s slick came in behind him, finally hovering just above the river near the Special Forces team. “Hostile fire crashed through his windscreen as the patrol boarded his helicopter,” Fleming’s citation notes. But Fleming held his helicopter steady, waiting as each member of RT Chisel was pulled aboard.

Finally, everyone was aboard except for one soldier. He’d stayed behind, spraying machine gun fire to keep the Vietnamese at bay as his team boarded the helicopter. Now that last man sprinted for the Huey as Fleming waited.

Finally, the last soldier lunged at the helicopter, grabbing a rope ladder. Fleming knew he had his man, and he took off. The final member of RT Chisel was still hanging beneath the chopper, and the Vietnamese were still firing as the Americans pulled away from the river!

When Fleming finally landed his Huey in safe territory, his fuel gauge read “empty.” Everyone had made it out. But barely.

Fleming received the Medal of Honor not too long afterwards. “How many helicopter pilots did what I did,” he later said, “and got shot down and died and no one saw it. Hundreds? I know that. I was recognized. And I owe a lot to those that weren’t.”


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Then 1st Lt. James P. Fleming went on to an illustrious 30-year career in the US Air Force prior to retiring in 1996 as a Colonel. In addition to his MoH, Colonel Fleming also earned the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, two Meritorious Service Medals and EIGHT Air Medals and other military awards. He is still alive and is 77 years old.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Guest author, Tara Ross, is a mother, wife, writer, and retired lawyer. She is the author of The Indispensable Electoral College: How the Founders’ Plan Saves Our Country from Mob Rule,Enlightened Democracy: The Case for the Electoral College, co-author of Under God: George Washington and the Question of Church and State (with Joseph C. Smith, Jr.), & We Elect A President: The Story of our Electoral College. She is a constitutionalist, but with a definite libertarian streak! Stay tuned here for updates on pretty much anything to do with the Electoral College, George Washington, & our wonderfully rich American heritage.

History posts are copyright © 2013-2020 by Tara Ross. Please use the share feature instead of cutting/pasting. #TDIH#OTD#History#USHistory#liberty#freedom#ShareTheHistory

President John F. Kennedy Assassinated 57 Years Ago Today

by HB Auld, Jr.

Fiffty-seven years ago today at approximately 1:00 p.m., CST, on November 22, 1963, we lost our 35th President of the United States, President John F. Kennedy, to an assassin’s bullet.

The end of the Camelot era brought with it a beginning of some darker times: the Vietnam War, Watergate, a presidential resignation, 9/11, and more. But it also brought forth some times in the sunlight: the Paris Peace Accord, the Ronald Reagan Presidency, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and more.

Rest In Peace, John F. Kennedy.

Veterans Day, November 11, 2020

by HB Auld, Jr.

In Flanders Fields

BY JOHN MCCRAE
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
        In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
        In Flanders fields.


Jeopardy host Alex Trebek dies at 80

by HB Auld, Jr.

Beloved Jeopardy television program host Alex Trebek died this morning of pancreatic cancer at the age of 80.

Alex announced he suffered from Stage Four Pancreatic Cancer in March, 2019. He was surrounded by his wife, Jean, and his family when he died.

According to TMZ, Alex powered through for a full year — despite what he called “massive attacks of great depression that made me wonder if it was really worth fighting on” — because he said he realized giving up on life would be a betrayal to his wife, to God, and to other cancer patients.

God rest his soul and may he Rest In Peace.

Thank you, Alex, for more than 36 years of great Jeopardy programs, for your other entertainment programs before that one, and for showing us your dignity throughout your illness.

My Younger Sister is the Same Age as I Am, Again

by HB Auld, Jr.

My sister, Jeri Lynn (Auld) Harness caught up with me yesterday and for these four days out of each year, we are the same age. She was born on November 1st, four days before my first birthday on November 5th.

We kid each other about being the same age every year during these four days. That makes us what is referred to as “Irish Twins,” two siblings born within the same year.

Happy birthday, Shugga, my sweet Little Sister, wife, grandmother, and great-grandmother. Be well and have a blessed year.

%d bloggers like this: