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Arnold Roy Ahlbom


Silver Star

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Awarded for actions during the Vietnam War

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Seaman Arnold Roy Ahlbom (NSN: B-606678), United States Navy, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in armed conflict against the Communist insurgent forces in the Republic of Vietnam. Seaman Ahlbom was assigned as the deck seaman and gunner on board MSB-51. On the morning of 15 February 1967, MSB-51 and MSB-49 were conducting mine countermeasures in the Long Tau River when they came under an intense enemy attack from two platoons of Viet Cong firing 75-mm. recoilless rifles and automatic weapons. MSB-49 was severely damaged, went dead in the water and started sinking. Seaman Ahlbom immediately opened fire from his .50 caliber machine gun mount delivering heavy, accurate suppressive fire. When his boat went alongside MSB-49, he left his station, exposed to enemy fire, and went aboard the stricken minesweeper administering first aid to the several wounded, jettisoning ammunition and removing the weapons denying their capture by the enemy. He personally climbed high above the main deck and removed a .50 caliber machine gun completely exposing himself to the continuing intense fire. With MSB-49 forced onto the near bank, Seaman Ahlbom went ashore in the enemy controlled territory and secured the grounded MSB's stern line to the trees. He then assisted in transferring the critically wounded to River Patrol Boats (PBR) for further medical evacuation by helicopter. He continued rendering first aid to other injured personnel aboard his boat being transferred to Nha Be. Later the same day, MSB-51 came under two more Viet Cong ambushes with the enemy using rockets, automatic weapons and small arms fire. One rocket struck directly below Seaman Ahlbom's station severely wounding him with deadly shrapnel fragmentations. Though stunned from the initial explosion and bleeding profusely, he bravely continued an intensive counterattack. Again, on several occasions, he exposed himself to the enemy fire in carrying out his assignments. Seaman Ahlbom's extreme courage under fire, sense of responsibility and loyal devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Action Date: February 15, 1967

Service: Navy

Rank: Seaman

Division: MSB-51