Herbert J. Blaha

The President of the United States takes great pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Flying Cross to Lieutenant Colonel Herbert J. Blaha for heroism and extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight, while serving as the Executive Officer of Marine Aircraft Group Thirty-Six, First Marine Aircraft Wing in connection with operations against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam. On the morning of 20 November 1968, during Operation Meade River, Lieutenant Colonel Blaha launched as the Aircraft Commander aboard the second aircraft in a flight of fourteen CH-46 transport helicopters assigned to helilift the assault elements of a Marine battalion into an enemy-controlled area southwest of DaNang. Completely disregarding his own safety, he ignored the intense hostile fire directed against his aircraft as he skillfully maneuvered his CH-46 into the fire-swept zone, disembarked his assault team and returned to An Hoa and embarked a second increment. Undaunted by the heavy volume of enemy mortar, small arms, and automatic weapons fire, and realizing the urgency of expediting the landing of the second increment of Marines to reinforce the heavily-engaged ground units which were cordoning a large hostile force, he again braved the intense enemy fire to land in the battle area and disembark his Marines. When the Flight Leader’s aircraft sustained severe battle damage, forcing him to abort the mission, Lieutenant Colonel Blaha assumed the flight leadership of the remaining helicopters and led the third insertion wave into the hazardous area. Seriously wounded during his approach to the landing zone, he relinquished control of his CH-46 to his Copilot and remained oblivious to his own painful injuries, as he diligently monitored his instruments and gauges to assist in maneuvering his damaged aircraft to a safe landing at An Hoa. Lieutenant Colonel Blaha’s courage, superior airmanship and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of great personal danger were instrumental in the accomplishment of the hazardous mission and were in in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service.