When Maj. Philip J. Conran was cited for heroism during an October 1969 rescue operation in Vietnam, he received the Distinguished Flying Cross – one of four he merited during his service. Now, a bill pending on Capitol Hill would upgrade Conran’s award to the Medal of Honor.
Rep. Salud O. Carbajal, D-Calif., introduced the measure – H.R. 2330 – which described Conran’s actions that day. The bill also noted that the flier was not considered for the Medal of Honor because the operation took place in Laos at the time, and remained classified for years after the war ended in 1975.
Carbajal’s bill described how Conran braved “intense hostile fire” to rescue the crew of a downed helicopter, while serving as a CH3-E “Jolly Green Giant” helicopter pilot. He was assigned to the 21stSpecial Operations Squadron, 56thSpecial Operations Wing, based at Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Air Base, Thailand, at the time.
Conran had to land his helicopter after it was hit by enemy fire, but continued to brave attackers and protect his position until he and the stricken crew were rescued some six hours later.
“Major Conran’s decision to come to the aid of his downed comrades, his heroic actions above and beyond the call of duty while under severe hostile fire, and his positive attitude throughout the ordeal were instrumental in enabling the two helicopter crews and 44 friendly troops to withstand superior odds until a rescue could be made,” the bill states.
It is now pending before the House Armed Services Committee.