Lorenzo R. Bancells

The President of the United States takes great pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Flying Cross to Captain Lorenzo R. Bancells for heroism while participating in aerial flight as a Pilot with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 263, Marine Aircraft Group Sixteen, First Marine Aircraft Wing in connection with combat operations against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam. On the morning of 17 December 1970, Captain Bancells launched as Section Leader of a flight of two CH-46 transport helicopters assigned the emergency hoist extraction of a Marine reconnaissance team which had sustained one casualty while surrounded and heavily engaged in combat with a large North Vietnamese Army force on the slopes of Charlie Ridge northwest of Hill 52 in the Thuong Duc Valley of Quang Nam Province. Arriving over the designated area, he was given a situation brief by the Forward Air Controller (Airborne) and informed that the beleaguered patrol was located on a steep incline in an area surrounded by tall trees. Undaunted by the intensity of the hostile automatic weapons and small arms fire directed at his aircraft, Captain Bancells commenced his approach to the pick-up site but was forced to abort his extraction attempt when the extremely heavy volume of enemy fire wounded the extraction officer aboard his helicopter and damaged his transport. After assessing the extent of the damage and deciding he could continue the mission, Captain Bancells, despite the dangerously low state of his fuel and the turbulent weather over the rugged mountain terrain, completely disregarded his own safety as he again braved the North Vietnamese fire and maneuvered to a hover above the reconnaissance team. Undeterred by the increased intensity of the hostile fire, he maneuvered his helicopter into a position with his side facing the enemy fire and fearlessly remained in his precarious hover for the eight minutes required to attach the wounded Marine and one of his comrades to the extraction rig. The team then quickly moved to a landing zone for subsequent extractions. Although his transport was repeatedly struck by enemy rounds, he lifted safely out of the perilous area and then proceeded to Hill 65 where the evacuee was transferred to a medical evacuation helicopter. By his courage, superior airmanship, and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of great personal danger, Captain Bancells was instrumental in accomplishing the hazardous mission and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service.