David W. Ariss Sr.

The President of the United States takes great pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Flying Cross to Captain David W. Ariss for heroism and extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight while serving with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 265, Marine Aircraft Group Sixteen, First Marine Aircraft Wing in connection with operations against insurgent communist (Viet Cong)forces in the Republic of Vietnam. On 1 February 1968, Captain Ariss launched as Aircraft Commander of the second Ch-46 transport helicopter in a flight of two aircraft assigned the mission of inserting reconnaissance teams in an area approximately nine miles southwest of DaNang in Quang Nam Province. Arriving over the designated area, he began orbiting the zone as the Pilot of the lead helicopter began his approach to the landing zone. As the first aircraft neared the ground, it came under intense enemy fire and, despite evasive maneuvers by the Pilot, was struck by an enemy rocket-propelled grenade which exploded on impact. The rear of the helicopter burst into flames, but the Pilot managed to land the severely damaged aircraft in a clearing adjacent to the landing zone. Observing survivors moving away from the burning aircraft to a nearby hill, Captain Ariss unhesitatingly maneuvered his helicopter into the tree-surrounded zone and, disregarding the extremely intense enemy fire directed at his aircraft, landed near the besieged Marines. Displaying dauntless courage and uncommon concern for his fellow Marines, Captain Ariss remained in the fire-swept zone ignoring the intense fire directed against him, until all of the survivors were aboard his aircraft. Lifting out of the zone, he exhibited superb airmanship, as he executed a low level, high speed departure from the hazardous area through heavy hostile fire. Due to his prompt and fearless actions, he undoubtedly saved the lives of thirteen Marines. Captain Ariss’ bold initiative, exception aeronautical skill and unwavering devotion to duty at great personal risk were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service.