FORT RILEY, Kan. – Soldiers of the 1st Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, welcomed a Medal of Honor recipient into their ranks during the squadron’s ball in Junction City, Kan.
Retired Lt. Col. Bruce Crandall, who received the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Battle of Ia Drang, became an honoree trooper in the 1-6 CAV by signing the squadron scrolls.
Crandall’s actions in the 1965 Vietnam battle were depicted in the movie “We Were Soldiers.” Then a major, he flew 22 missions in an unarmed helicopter to bring ammunition and supplies to Soldiers who were engaged in one of the fiercest battles of the Vietnam War.
When fighting became too intense, the unit assigned to evacuate the wounded refused to land in the valley. Crandall volunteered to get the wounded out. He and his wingman, Maj. Ed Freeman, were credited with saving more than 70 wounded Soldiers.
Crandall received the Medal of Honor from President George W. Bush in 2007. It was this scene which made the 1-6 leadership know they wanted Crandall to be the guest speaker at their ball.
“When we were doing research on him, the one picture that sealed the deal was when he got the Medal of Honor from the President of the United States in the Oval Office, Col. Crandall was wearing his Stetson,” said Lt. Col. Kenneth Chase, the squadron commander. “The reason we asked him to come spend time with the troopers of 1-6 CAV is because he is 100 percent air CAV.”
Crandall, who has served in every leadership position in the Army from platoon leader to battalion commander and has also been a leader out of uniform as a city manager and as a public works manager, talked with the CAV officers about leadership a few days before the ball.
“I wanted to talk to the officers and give them a different view of what went on in that battle and some of the things that we did wrong,” Crandall said. “Because some of those officers are going to be at the top someday, and they have to remember that the little simple decisions they make are going to have consequences.”
Chase said that the former aviator is “totally committed” to taking care of Soldiers and for that reason Crandall also talked to the squadron’s NCOs.
“I wanted to speak and welcome home all of them,” Crandall said. “I actually get more out of this then they do. It takes me back to the times when I was doing this and I remember when I was a young troop.”
During the formal part of the ball the Medal of Honor recipient helped to induct several officers and NCOs into the Order of St. Michael and received a 1-6 CAV belt buckle.
“The CAV squadrons have always been, to me, the best that the Army has. I am very proud of all of you and you should be equally proud of yourselves,” Crandall said. “The CAV hasn’t changed much since my days; we still have the most beautiful women and some of the wildest guys.”
By Sgt. 1st Class Jeff Troth