Robert L. Erwin, III

First Lieutenant Robert L. Erwin III is awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for heroism and extraordinary achievement in aerial flight while serving with Marine Light Helicopter Squadron 367, Marine Aircraft Group Thirty-Six, First Marine Aircraft Wing in connection with combat operations against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam. On 19 July 1969, First Lieutenant Erwin launched as Copilot aboard the second aircraft in a flight of two armed UH-1E helicopters assigned the mission of supporting the emergency extraction of a fifteen-man United States Army Special Forces reconnaissance team that was heavily engaged in combat with a hostile force deep in enemy-controlled territory. Arriving over the designated area, he was informed that the beleaguered patrol was located in tall elephant grass on the side of a ridge and was under intense automatic weapons fire from enemy positions on high ground overlooking the team. Undaunted by the extremely heavy volume of hostile fire directed at his aircraft, he skillfully assisted at the controls during repeated rocket and strafing runs and delivered such accurate and highly effective machine gun fire that the transport helicopters were able to commence their approach to the pickup site. When his aircraft was struck by enemy fire, First Lieuteant Erwin was seriously wounded. Removed from his seat, he was carried to the rear cabin by the crew chief and aerial gunner and administered first aid. As soon as his wounds were bandaged, First Lieutenant Erwin resolutely struggled to stand upright, boldly manned an M-60 machine gun, and delivered suppressive fire which enabled his gunship to depart the hazardous area and proceed to the Vandergrift Combat Base. First Lieutenant Erwin’s courage, superior airmanship, and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of great personal danger inspired all who observed him and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service.