Friday, January 20, 2012

TFH 1/20: BMC Quincy Hightower Truett, USN

Beginning in late 1968, Operation SEALORDS was begun in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam to combat the communist Viet Cong supply lines and forces in the region. This operation combined several previous riverine warfare units of the United States Navy into one consolidated force, of which Task Force 116 was part.

On this day in 1969, Chief Boatswain's Mate Quincy Hightower Truett commanded a "Patrol Boat, River" (PBR), one of four other craft in a mission along the Kinh Dong Tien Canal. When the entire unit came under intense enemy attack, he sacrificed his own safety to rescue his comrades from a burning PBR. For his courage, leadership, and sacrifice, he was decorated with our Nation's second highest honor: the Navy Cross.

From Military Times' Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Chief Boatswain's Mate Quincy Hightower Truett (NSN: 4284530), United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism on the night of 20 January 1969 while serving with River Division 551, River Patrol Flotilla FIVE, Task Force 116 (TF-116), engaged in armed conflict against North Vietnamese and Viet Cong communist aggressor forces on the Kinh Dong Tien Canal in the Republic of Vietnam. As Patrol Officer of two River Patrol Boats (PBR's) in company with an Armored Troop Carrier (ATC) and two other PBR's, Chief Petty Officer Truett was aboard the fourth boat in the column when the entire unit came under intense enemy fire. PBR 8137, the boat ahead of Chief Petty Officer Truett, was taken under extremely heavy fire and began to burn, forcing the five occupants aboard into the water. Observing the men struggling to reach the safety of a ditch, Chief Petty Officer Truett ordered his PBR into the area of the burning craft to recover the men in the water. Without regard for his own personal safety, he deliberately exposed himself to the blistering enemy fire, positioning himself on the bow of his boat to provide covering fire and to assist the men from the water. Because of several bright fires from grass huts burning along the canal bank, Chief Petty Officer Truett was completely visible to the enemy during the entire rescue. Mortally wounded after he had helped rescue the last man from the water, Chief Petty Officer Truett, by his outstanding valor, concern for his shipmates' safety, and inspiring devotion to duty, contributed directly to the safe recovery of the crew of PBR 8137. His selfless efforts were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

The Knox-class frigate, USS Truett (FF-1095), was named in honor of this brave sailor and served our Navy for twenty years from 1974-1994. Her motto was "Dedication to God and Fatherland", which her namesake doubtlessly displayed in the face of the enemy.

Chief Truett, age 36 at his death, is listed on Panel 34W, Line 46 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in our Nation's capital. Learn more about PBRs and the brave men who crewed them at the website of their veterans' association.

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