Charles L. Zangas

The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS to MAJOR CHARLES LOUIS ZANGAS, UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS, for heroism and extraordinary achievement in aerial flight while serving as a Pilot with Marine Fighter/Attack Squadron 115, Marine Aircraft Group Thirteen, First Marine Aircraft Wing in connection with operations against insurgent communist (Viet Cong) forces in the Republic of Vietnam. On the afternoon of 14 May 1968, Major ZANGAS launched as Section Leader of a flight of two F-4 Phantom aircraft assigned to provide close air support for a friendly unit that was heavily engaged with a large enemy force near Que Son in Quang Tin Province. Establishing contact with the Tactical Air Controller (Airborne), Major ZANGAS was informed that the target consisted of several automatic weapons emplacements which had pinned down the friendly unit and prevented resupply helicopters from entering the landing zone. Despite approaching darkness and rapidly deteriorating weather conditions, he unhesitatingly proceeded to the designated area and orbited his Phantom while the Tactical Air Controller (Airborne) marked the enemy positions with smoke rockets. Realizing that visibility was limited and the proximity of friendly and hostile forces required precise ordnance delivery, he skillfully maneuvered his aircraft into the approach and immediately came under a heavy volume of enemy fire. Ignoring the intense fire directed at his Phantom, he delivered his ordnance and rapidly gained altitude to avoid the orbiting helicopters as his bombs impacted on the hostile emplacements with pinpoint accuracy. Continuing his determined efforts, he fearlessly executed a subsequent attack, delivering his remaining ordnance with devastating effectiveness. His bold initiative and superior aeronautical ability were instrumental in his flight silencing the enemy automatic weapons fire and enabled the friendly unit to receive critically needed supplies. Major ZANGAS’ courage, superb airmanship and steadfast devotion to duty in the face of great personal danger were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service.