FORT SILL (KFDX/KJTL) — A marine veteran received a very special recognition earlier Friday morning at Fort Sill.
The date was Jan. 21, 1968, U.S. Army Captain Bob Ford and another Army Huey had gone to a landing zone to resupply soldiers during the Vietnam War when the other helicopter had to abort the mission after the door gunner had been shot.
“I said ’27 how’s your door gunner,” Ford said. “And he said ‘boss, he’s shot pretty good. So what do I do for a gunner?’ My very words over the radio was ‘get a marine we’ve yet to see one that didn’t want to fight.”
The person who volunteered to take on that duty was United States Marine Richard Brittingham.
“It turned out to be a pretty much significant kinetic firefight, followed,” Brittingham said. “We basically landed in the middle of an ambush so they knew we were coming.”
Because of this act of heroism, Brittingham earned the Bronze Star which signifies valor and heroics during combat operations. Commanding Officer of the Marine Artillery Detachment in Fort Sill, Col. Christopher A. Tavuchis said Brittingham’s actions showed his fearlessness.
“Dr. Brittingham represents that fearlessness and is exactly the type of role model that these marines look up to,” Tavuchis said.
Brittingham could have lost his life that day, but he said it is something he would do again.
“In a heartbeat,” Brittingham said. “These were American soldiers that were in trouble and needed help, of course, would do it again. I would do it tomorrow, even at age 70.”
Brittingham was wounded during this fight and as he was taken out of the helicopter on a stretcher, he looked at Ford and said:
“Sir, do you need me anymore today,” Ford said.
It’s that kind of bravery that continues to keep the United States the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Also because of his actions, Brittingham was awarded the Purple Heart, Vietnam Service Medal with four Bronze Stars and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry.