Keith E. Aakre

Aakre, Keith E., Chief Warrant Officer, 123rd Aviation Battalion, Twenty-Third Infantry Division, United States Army, is awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for heroism while participating in aerial flight in connection with combat operations against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam. On the evening of 27 January 1971, Chief Warrant Officer Aakre launched as Helicopter Scout Pilot of a light observation helicopter to conduct visual reconnaissance of the rocket belt surrounding the Danang vital area. Shortly after commencing his reconnaissance, he sighted a metal boat, a sampan, and smoke rising from a wooded area. To enable his aerial observer to obtain a better view of the area and more precisely identify and pinpoint the enemy activity, Chief Warrant Officer Aakre maneuvered his aircraft on a low-altitude pass approximately fifty feet above the ground. On the second pass over the same area, his helicopter came under intense hostile ground fire which damaged the aircraft and seriously wounded both Chief Warrant Officer Aakre and his aerial observer. Although unable to use his wounded left leg, Chief Warrant Officer Aakre fought to maintain control of his helicopter and succeeded in maneuvering his aircraft to a safe landing on a road near a friendly position. As a result of his gallant actions, he was instrumental in saving his crew and a valuable aircraft. Chief Warrant Officer Aakre’s courage, superior airmanship, and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of great personal danger were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Armed Forces