Bill seeks honor for Army Dustoff crews of Vietnam era
- By Paul Gilkes , Coin World
- Published: Sep 30, 2023, 8 AM
Dustoff medical crew extracts wounded soldiers from a battlefield in Vietnam. Image courtesy of the United States Army.
Legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate Sept. 14 seeks a congressional gold medal to collectively recognize the Vietnam War era’s DUSTOFF crews. It follows by six months a similar bill introduced in the house seeking to honor these teams, which provided aeromedical evacuation from the battlefield via helicopter. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, introduced S.2825, and the bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs for consideration. On Feb. 14, Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Washington, introduced a similar bill, H.R. 1015, in the House. According to the text of S.2825, “during the Vietnam War, with the use of helicopter air ambulances, United States Army DUSTOFF crews pioneered the concept of dedicated and rapid medical evacuation, and transported almost 900,000 United States, South Vietnamese, and other allied sick and wounded, as well as wounded enemy forces.”
The perilous extractions often meant the different between life and death for the injured military personnel. According to the legislation, “the 54th Medical Detachment typified the constant heroism displayed by DUSTOFF crews in Vietnam, over the span of a 10-month tour, with only 3 flyable helicopters and 40 soldiers in the unit, evacuating 21,435 patients in 8,644 missions while being airborne for 4,832 hours.” Both bills seek production of bronze duplicates of the gold medal for sale to the public.
As a note of clarity – the term DUSTOFF equally applies to the call sign MEDEVAC used by the 1st Cavalry Division’s Air Ambulance crews who used the call sign “MEDEVAC.”
A recent Wall Street Journal article also came out in support of these efforts. Read that article here if you have a WSJ Subscription.
There is a new post regarding pro-bono efforts to assist the Vietnam DUSTOFF Association (we support their efforts) – Read that article here.