Raymond L. Duvall

The President of the United States takes great pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Flying Cross to Major Raymond L. Duvall for heroism and extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight while serving as an Aircraft Commander with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 362 in connection with operations against insurgent communist (Viet Cong) forces in the Republic of Vietnam. On 15 February 1966, Major Duvall was assigned as Flight Leader of twenty-four helicopters assigned on a mission to retract elements of three Marine battalions from an insecure landing zone in the Song Bato Valley. Observing a dense cloud cover while approaching the proposed landing zone, Major Duvall wisely ordered the remainder of the flight to remain clear and proceeded to seek an unobstructed path to the designated site. Exercising great skill and aeronautical ability, he maneuvered his way to the valley floor, disregarding the inherent danger of flying through mountains and clouds and the sniper fire from the Viet Cong positioned around the valley walls. Locating the troops to be lifted, he left the valley, selecting a route for the flight to follow. Leading the aircraft back into the landing zone, he began the retraction. While climbing out through the clouds, one of the aircraft experienced engine failure and commenced an emergency descent. Without hesitating, Major Duvall came down through the clouds, located the downed aircraft and called in other aircraft to assist in evacuating the crew and equipment, at the same time relaying to the beach support area the location of the downed helicopter and requesting maintenance personnel and a perimeter guard force. Although the landing zone came under increasingly heavy enemy fire, as the number of Marine ground troops diminished, Major Duvall continued to lead his flight into the hazardous area, successfully evacuating all troops. Through his professionalism and decisive actions, the mission was completed successfully despite inclement weather conditions and enemy fire, in addition to which the downed helicopter crewmen were rescued promptly and immediate measures were taken to recover the aircraft. M Duvall’s exceptional ability as an aviator, composure under trying conditions and unswerving dedication to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.