Vietnam Veteran honored at Fort Campbell with Distinguished Flying Cross award

A Vietnam veteran has received the Distinguished Flying Cross in a ceremony held Thursday with Fort Campbell and the 101st Airborne Division Air Assault. 

According to a news release, Eldridge Johnson Jr. received the Distinguished Flying Cross for actions taken in Vietnam when he was a member of C Troop, 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division. In September of 1971, Johnson was forced to make an emergency landing during a test flight in Vietnam after his AH-G1 Cobra gunship lost all transmission fluid. Johnson, a chief warrant officer two at the time, safely landed the aircraft near an enemy village before transmitting a mayday message.

 Aircraft returning from another mission heard the mayday call and conducted a blocking maneuver to keep local villagers away from the scene while Chief Johnson diagnosed the cause of his premature landing. He then sent the soldier back with one of the other aircraft to retrieve the parts needed to fix the Cobra. Chief Johnson’s previous experience as a helicopter mechanic allowed him to repair his aircraft before piloting it back to base.

Johnson says, “This award is not just for me, it is for people who didn’t know they earned it, it’s for people who didn’t come home, so it is not for me. I receive it on behalf of my brothers and sisters that didn’t come home.”