OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – An Oklahoma City man will receive the military’s highest honor for his valor during the Vietnam War.
President Joe Biden will award the Medal of Honor to Army Spc. 5 Dwight W. Birdwell on July 5.
Birdwell, now an attorney in Oklahoma City, is being honored for saving fellow soldiers amid an ambush at Tan Son Nhut, a key airbase near Saigon, during the Tet Offensive in 1968.
He was a soldier with 3rd Squadron’s Charlie Troop, serving as a crew member in a tank, when the ambush occurred. He leapt into action when his tank commander was shot in the head.
Birdwell pulled his commander out of the tank and passed him over the side for medical treatment, keeping him alive, according to an article on the U.S. Army’s website.
The tank was steeped in the middle of an enemy invasion. As the confusion and pandemonium intensified, Birdwell took command of the tank, firing rounds to keep the enemy back.
He ran out of ammunition, but noticed that a U.S. helicopter was making an emergency landing behind his tank.
Birdwell hopped from the tank, rushed to the helicopter, grabbed one of its M-60 machine guns and returned to his previous position. He fired rounds at the enemy until something hit the machine gun, spraying shrapnel into his face and chest, according to the article.
He ran into a ditch for cover, and then returned to the fight along with a few other soldiers, grabbing some M-16 rifles and grenades.
They found a closer position behind a large tree, then exchanged gunfire and threw grenades until the enemy fired a machine gun at them.
The battle continued until Charlie Troop reinforcements arrived.
Almost 20 soldiers from the squadron were killed and many more wounded during the ambush, according to the Army article.