Clyde Everett Lassen
Clyde Everett Lassen
Medal of Honor recipient
Fort Myers, Florida
Died 1994 (aged 51–52) Allegiance United States of America Service/branch United States Navy Years of service 1961 - 1982 Rank Commander Unit Helicopter Squadron 7, Detachment 104 Battles/wars Vietnam War Awards Medal of Honor
Clyde Everett Lassen (1942 – 1994), a native of Fort Myers, Florida, was a retired Commander in the United States Navy and a Naval Aviator. As a Lieutenant, he received the Medal of Honor for his rescue of two downed Naval Aviators while piloting a search and rescue helicopter in Vietnam.
On June 19, 1968, Lassen, then a 26-year-old Lieutenant, junior grade flying a UH-2 Seasprite, embarked on a mission to recover two downed naval aviators whose plane had been shot down deep in North Vietnamese territory. Upon reaching the hilly terrain where the aviators were hiding, Lassen made several attempts to recover the aviators, but dense tree cover, enemy weapons fire and intermittent illumination frustrated his efforts. Lassen turned on the landing lights of the helicopter, despite the danger of revealing his position to the enemy. After the pilots made their way to the helicopter and with his bullet-riddled helicopter dangerously low on fuel, Lassen evaded further antiaircraft fire before landing safely at sea onboard a guided missile destroyer with only five minutes of fuel left in the helicopter's fuel lines. The account of the rescue was logged as a successful, routine search and rescue mission.
LT Lassen became the first naval aviator and fifth Navy man to be awarded the Medal of Honor for bravery in Vietnam. He remained in the Navy for a career and retired in 1982 with the rank of Commander, residing in Pensacola, Florida until his death in 1994. In 2001, a destroyer was commissioned and named after him: the USS Lassen.
Medal of Honor citation
Rank and organization: Lieutenant, U.S. Navy, Helicopter Support Squadron 7, Detachment 104, embarked in U.S.S. Preble (DLG-15). place and date: Republic of Vietnam, June 19, 1968. Entered service at: Jacksonville, Fla. Born: March 14, 1942, Fort Myers, Fla.
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as pilot and aircraft commander of a search and rescue helicopter, attached to Helicopter Support Squadron 7, during operations against enemy forces in North Vietnam. Launched shortly after midnight to attempt the rescue of 2 downed aviators, Lt. (then Lt. (J.G.)) Lassen skillfully piloted his aircraft over unknown and hostile terrain to a steep, tree-covered hill on which the survivors had been located. Although enemy fire was being directed at the helicopter, he initially landed in a clear area near the base of the hill, but, due to the dense undergrowth, the survivors could not reach the helicopter. With the aid of flare illumination, Lt. Lassen successfully accomplished a hover between 2 trees at the survivors' position Illumination was abruptly lost as the last of the flares were expended, and the helicopter collided with a tree, commencing a sharp descent. Expertly righting his aircraft and maneuvering clear, Lt. Lassen remained in the area, determined to make another rescue attempt, and encouraged the downed aviators while awaiting resumption of flare illumination. After another unsuccessful, illuminated rescue attempt, and with his fuel dangerously low and his aircraft significantly damaged, he launched again and commenced another approach in the face of the continuing enemy opposition. When flare illumination was again lost, Lt. Lassen, fully aware of the dangers in clearly revealing his position to the enemy, turned on his landing lights and completed the landing. On this attempt, the survivors were able to make their way to the helicopter. En route to the coast he encountered and successfully evaded additional hostile antiaircraft fire and, with fuel for only 5 minutes of flight remaining, landed safely aboard U.S.S. Jouett (DLG-29).
- ^ "Navy to Commission Guided Missile Destroyer Lassen". Abilene Reporter-News. April 19, 2001. http://www.homeofheroes.com/news/archives/2001_0419_usslassen.html. Retrieved May 14, 2006. (posted on Home of Heroes.com)
- ""Medal of Honor recipients of the U.S. Navy in Vietnam",". By Sea, Air, and Land. Naval Historical Center, Department of the Navy. http://www.history.navy.mil/seairland/appena.htm#anchor4217240. Retrieved May 14, 2006.
- "USS Lassen Namesake". United States Navy. http://www.lassen.navy.mil/namesake.htm. Retrieved September 24, 2010. [dead link]
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