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May 1975 Mayaguez Incident

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  • Larry South
    Re: May 1975 Mayaguez Incident

    I have a good friend that is a member of the KoTang beach club.

    Leave a comment:

  • pm3777
    started a topic May 1975 Mayaguez Incident

    May 1975 Mayaguez Incident

    Silver Star
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    Awarded for actions during the S.S. Mayaguez Incident

    The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to First Lieutenant Terry Lee Tonkin (MCSN: 0-116555), United States Marine Corps, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action on 15 May 1975 as the Forward Air Controller with Battalion Landing Team, Second Battalion, Ninth Marines while engaged in the recovery of S.S. MAYAGUEZ which had been seized in the Gulf of Thailand by units of the Cambodian Navy. While participating in the assault operation of Koh Tang Island, the helicopter in which First Lieutenant Tonkin was riding was hit by a heavy volume of enemy fire and crashed into the shallow water just off the beach. Before impact, First Lieutenant Tonkin was blown out of the back of the aircraft. Despite a dazed condition and painful injuries, he immediately swam to the side of the burning aircraft and organized and directed the movement of the other survivors away from the aircraft and out to sea. Disregarding the heavy enemy fire, he organized a survival float so that each individual could assist one another. As the group continued to receive hostile fire from the shore, he obtained a survival radio and while treading water began to direct tactical air strikes on the enemy's position, persisting in his efforts until the fire was sufficiently suppressed to allow the survivors to swim out to sea where they remained afloat for three and a half hours until their rescue. By his aggressiveness and coolness under fire, he was instrumental in saving the lives of the survivors; thereby upholding the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.

    Action Date: 15-May-75

    Service: Marine Corps

    Rank: First Lieutenant

    Company: Battalion Landing Team

    Battalion: 2d Battalion

    Aboard the LPH Okinawa at Subic----------------------------------------------

    We were at Subic just returned from Operation "Frequent Winds" (Evacuation Saigon Embassy). We thought that the Helicopter mission would be ours; HMH-462. However the USAF with the CH53 was assigned. They had no expierience in making a landing such as was required there. They backed into the beach slowly under heavy fire with the rear ramp down!!!. Marines would not have approached in that manner. . Someplace I have photos of the shot up Helicopters that did return to PI. Even the tires were shot up they were riddled with bullet holes. SF Gy///Msgt Moore