Gerald R. Agresti

Lieutenant (junior grade) Gerald R. Agresti is awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for heroic achievement while participating in aerial flight as a naval flight officer attached to Fighter Squadron Thirty-two embarked in USS Franklin D Roosevelt (CVA42). On 14 December 1966 Lieutenant (junior grade) Agresti launched as Radar Intercept Officer in a jet aircraft as a part of a 42 plane Alpha strike against the Van Dien vehicle depot, North Vietnam. He assisted his pilot in aerial refueling and then proceeded with the division to the mainland. Shortly thereafter, and under marginal weather conditions, the flight came under attack by surface-to-air missiles. Quickly spotting the missiles, he correctly recommended to his pilot the necessary evasive maneuvering. As the strike group approached the target complex, it was confronted by a thick, black wall of intense anti-aircraft fire and unprecedented surface-to-air missile activity. Thirty-nine surface-to-air missiles were observed while over the mainland. He advised his pilot of the best courses of evasive action. Diving into the heart of the target complex, he called out corrective airspeeds, altitude, dive angles, and finally ordnance release. This action greatly aided the pilot in placing all ordnance on the target. Enroute to the coast, Lieutenant (junior grade) Agresti suddenly noted airborne surface-to-air missile electronic warnings. Visually acquiring a mission astern the main strike group, he instantly called its relative position. This split second action enabled the strike group to initiate successful evasive maneuvers. Lieutenant (junior grade) Agresti doggedly maintained visual lookout under near incapacitating acceleration forces and spied a second surface-to-air missile rapidly approaching his two-plane section. The pilots were still concentrating on recovering from the first maneuver; scant seconds remained until aircraft missile collision. He rapidly determined and directed the proper evasive maneuver which both pilots unhesitatingly executed. Lieutenant (junior grade) Agresti’s extraordinary professional knowledge, expert systems operation, and demonstration of aerial skills in this combat environment were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.