Sunday, January 06, 2013

TFH 1/6: Major Patrick H. Brady, USA

Patrick Henry Brady was born in Philip, South Dakota on October 1, 1936. He grew up in Seattle, Washington. He began college studies at Seattle University in the mid-1950s where he became frustrated with the mandatory Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) participation in those days. He was eventually kicked out, but he reexamined his priorities when he figured he would be drafted into service anyway after his graduation. This time, he was successful and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army's Medical Service Corps in 1959.

In 1963, Brady completed the Army Aviation School at Fort Rucker, Alabama and became a medical evacuation helicopter pilot. In 1965 he completed his first tour during the Vietnam War with the 57th Medical Detachment. Two years later in 1967, he began his second tour in Vietnam, and ultimately joined the ranks of our Nation's greatest heroes.

Brady resumed combat flying in the 44th Medical Brigade's 67th Medical Group, 74th Medical Battalion, 54th Medical Detachment (Helicopter Ambulance).

During two days in October 1967, Brady volunteered to fly through zero-visibility weather conditions to evacuate multiple casualties. His repeated trips through the increasingly bad weather and intense enemy opposition saw him decorated with the Army's second-highest award for valor: the Distinguished Service Cross:

From Military Times' Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918 (amended by act of July 25, 1963), takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Major (Medical Service Corps) Patrick Henry Brady (ASN: 0-88015), United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam, while serving with 54th Medical Detachment (Helicopter Ambulance), 74th Medical Battalion, 67th Medical Group, 44th Medical Brigade. Major Brady distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions on 2 and 3 October 1967 as pilot of an ambulance helicopter on a rescue mission near Tam Ky. A friendly force requested extraction of several seriously wounded soldiers from a mountainous jungle landing zone, and Major Brady volunteered to attempt the rescue although heavy storms had grounded numerous aircraft in the area. Flying by instruments and radar, he arrived in the area of engagement and began a vertical descent into the tight landing zone by the light of flares. Unable to see more than a few feet outside his aircraft, he skillfully maneuvered to the friendly forces, loaded his ship to capacity and quickly flew to the hospital. The storm increased in intensity and made flying extremely hazardous, but he returned to the pickup site and once more attempted to land. As he approached the area, enemy forces directed devastating machine gun and automatic weapons fire at him. Completely disregarding his personal welfare, he flew low over the area for forty-five minutes before he located the friendly forces. Guiding himself by the flashes of the enemy weapons, he flew into the landing zone through a curtain of fire and loaded eight patients. He quickly flew the patients to the hospital, and once more returned to pick up the remaining casualties and carry them to safety. His fearless actions were responsible for the rapid and successful evacuation of several wounded fellow soldiers. Major Brady's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.

Just three months later, Major Brady again flew his helicopter into dangerous weather conditions and severe enemy resistance. Two other helicopters had been shot down previously attempting the rescue, and Brady flew trip after trip into the maelstrom to rescue not only his fellow Americans but the wounded of our South Vietnamese allies. When his first Bell UH-1 Iroquois - better known as the "Huey" - helicopter was damaged too severely to fly, he jumped aboard another and when that ship was damaged, a third, and continued flying throughout the day and rescued fifty-one wounded. For this action forty-five years ago today on January 6, 1968, Patrick Brady received our Nation's highest decoration for valor.

From Medal of Honor Citations for the Vietnam War (A-L):


Rank and organization: Major, U.S. Army, Medical Service Corps, 54th Medical Detachment, 67th Medical Group, 44th Medical Brigade. Place and date: Near Chu Lai, Republic of Vietnam, 6 January 1968. Entered service at: Seattle, Wash. Born: 1 October 1936, Philip, S. Dak. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty, Maj. Brady distinguished himself while serving in the Republic of Vietnam commanding a UH-1H ambulance helicopter, volunteered to rescue wounded men from a site in enemy held territory which was reported to be heavily defended and to be blanketed by fog. To reach the site he descended through heavy fog and smoke and hovered slowly along a valley trail, turning his ship sideward to blow away the fog with the backwash from his rotor blades. Despite the unchallenged, close-range enemy fire, he found the dangerously small site, where he successfully landed and evacuated 2 badly wounded South Vietnamese soldiers. He was then called to another area completely covered by dense fog where American casualties lay only 50 meters from the enemy. Two aircraft had previously been shot down and others had made unsuccessful attempts to reach this site earlier in the day. With unmatched skill and extraordinary courage, Maj. Brady made 4 flights to this embattled landing zone and successfully rescued all the wounded. On his third mission of the day Maj. Brady once again landed at a site surrounded by the enemy. The friendly ground force, pinned down by enemy fire, had been unable to reach and secure the landing zone. Although his aircraft had been badly damaged and his controls partially shot away during his initial entry into this area, he returned minutes later and rescued the remaining injured. Shortly thereafter, obtaining a replacement aircraft, Maj. Brady was requested to land in an enemy minefield where a platoon of American soldiers was trapped. A mine detonated near his helicopter, wounding 2 crewmembers and damaging his ship. In spite of this, he managed to fly 6 severely injured patients to medical aid. Throughout that day Maj. Brady utilized 3 helicopters to evacuate a total of 51 seriously wounded men, many of whom would have perished without prompt medical treatment. Maj. Brady's bravery was in the highest traditions of the military service and reflects great credit upon himself and the U.S. Army.

Patrick Brady flew more than 2,000 medical evacuation missions over Vietnam. He is credited with the rescue of no fewer than 5,000 wounded American and allied warriors, many of whom doubtlessly owe him their lives. Were it not for his courage and devotion to the care and keep of his fellow warriors on the ground, there would be hundreds of additional names on the wall of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Brady remained in the Army after his Vietnam combat tours and eventually retired as a Major General after thirty-four years of service to our Nation in 1993. His final position was as the Deputy Commanding General of the Sixth Army. For the final ten years of his outstanding service in the Army, he was decorated with the Army Distinguished Service Medal (Military Times' Hall of Valor):

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Army Distinguished Service Medal to Major General Patrick Henry Brady (ASN: 0-88015), United States Army, for exceptionally meritorious and distinguished service in a position of great responsibility to the Government of the United States. Major General Brady distinguished himself by exceptionally meritorious service from September 1983 to August 1993, while serving in positions of great responsibility culminating as Deputy Commanding General, SIXTH United States Army and Presidio of San Francisco, California. General Brady excelled at the highest levels of the Army in a wide variety of international and politically sensitive command and staff positions. General Brady's inspiring leadership, integrity, foresight, and dedication have significantly increased combat readiness and mission effectiveness in all of his assignments. Major General Brady's distinguished service is in keeping with the finest traditions of military service and reflects great credit upon himself and the United States Army.

Major General Brady is still living. He is seventy-six years old.

Today, the 44th Medical Brigade supports the Army's XVIII Airborne Corps from their home base of  Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

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