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Robert P. Gradle


Silver Star

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Awarded for actions during the S.S. Mayaguez Incident

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 Silver Star to First Lieutenant Robert P. Gradle, United States Air Force, for gallantry in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force on Koh Tang Island in the Gulf of Thailand on 15 May 1975. On that date, Lieutenant Gradle was the Copilot of a helicopter crew which on two separate missions delivered a contingent of United States Marines to the island in spite of heavy and constant hostile ground fire. Later on the same day while attempting to removed an isolated Marine force, the aircraft received additional damage, was forced to withdraw and make a single engine landing on the aircraft carrier U.S.S. CORAL SEA. After emergency repairs were accomplished, the aircraft returned to the island and still facing intensive ground fire and with the added hazard of total darkness made a successful removal of ground forces. This courageous action aided in the recovery of the SS MAYAGUEZ and its crew. By his gallantry and devotion to duty, First Lieutenant Gradle has reflected great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.

General Orders: Headquarters, Pacific Air Forces, Special Order GB-0158 (August 6, 1975)

Action Date: 15-May-75

Service: Air Force

Rank: First Lieutenant