Master Sergeant Roy Benavidez
On May 2, 1968, MSG. Roy P. Benavidez and the men of the 240th Assault Helicopter Company that rescued him and what was left of a 12-man Special Forces team, were forever linked in the annals of history. MSG. Benavidez had leaped on to a Slick Huey of the 240th ACH which was going out to pick up the 12-man Special Forces team that was literally fighting for its life. Unable to get into the LZ where the team of Special Forces were holding off an NVA battalion, the 240th chopper landed in another clearing 75 yards away and MSG. Benavidez ran to help his comrades. Even before he made it to the embattled 12-man team, he was wounded numerous times by enemy fire but managed somehow to reach the beleaguered group. A 240th AHC Greyhound Slick, piloted by WO1 Larry McKibben was going in to get Benavidez and the remaining survivors out. MSG. Benavidez had all the survivors loaded aboard the aircraft when WO1 McKibben was killed and the helicopter crashed. MSG. Benavidez rallied the men once more and moved back into the jungle awaiting yet another rescue. Finally CW2 Roger Wagge was able to get his Slick landed in the LZ to pick up this group of men, not before pulling pitch and scraping off two NVA soldiers in the trees that had charged the chopper and were hanging on the sides. Unfortunately not all of the 12-man Special Forces team made it and the 240th Assault Helicopter Company paid a high price for their courageous actions on that day. Killed from the 240th AHC were WO1 Larry S. McKibben, SP4 Michael D. Craig and Sp4 Nelson E. Fournier. Severely wounded from the 240th AHC was CW2 Bill Armstrong, who was wounded in the head but still managed to fly his helicopter for 45 minutes, Doorgunner Gary Land and Doorgunner Bob Wessel. MSG. Benavidez was actually put into a body bag upon reaching safety, they thought he was dead and zipped him up inside. When another Green Beret told the medical personnel that MSG. Benavidez was alive, they unzipped the body bag and MSG. Benavidez spat in the doctor's face to let the doctor know that he wasn't dead. He received the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions on that day but was later awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor by President Ronald Reagan on February 24, 1981. MSG. Benavidez was a very humble man even though he was awarded the CMOH. He was eternally grateful to the men of the 240th Assault Helicopter Company that pulled him and his team from that living hell on May 2, 1968. He told us at the reunion, "The men of the 240th AHC always told me they never leave a man behind and they didn't." Sadly, MSG. Roy P. Benavidez passed away in late 1998 from complications due to major surgery. He will be missed.
240th Assault Helicopter Company Personnel on the Benavidez Mission
Wo1 Larry S. McKibben KIA
SP4 Michael D. Craig KIA
SP4 Nelson E. Fournier KIA
CW2 Bill Armstrong WIA
Gary Land WIA
Robert Wessel WIA
SP5Paul 'Frenchy' La Chance
SP4 Pete Gailis
CW2 Roger Wagge (Deceased)
CW2 Gerry Ewing
CW2 Bill Darling
CW2 Louis Wilson Mad Dog 22
CW2 Jim Bowman
CW2 Will Curry
CW2 Jim Fussell
WO William Fernan
CW2 Tom Smith
SP4 Danny Clark
To the best of my knowledge, none of the air crews of the 240th AHC that were on this mission were ever formally recognized by the United States Army for their valorous actions on May 2, 1968.
Since this page was created, CW2 Roger Wagge was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for his actions on May 2, 1968.
According to Jerry Ewing, Greyhound 25, 67-68, an aircraft commander of a UH-1H Greyhound SLICK on the mission to rescue MSG. Roy P. Benavidez and the Special Forces Team, CW2 Ewing and his crew landed their Huey in a very hot LZ. They wanted to check the wreckage of another Greyhound SLICK for survivors that had been perviously shot down attempting to rescue MSG. Benavidez and his men on May 2, 1968. Crew Chief/Doorgunner, SP5 Tagliaferri jumped from the Huey being piloted by Greyhound 25, CW2 Jerry Ewing, to look for survivors and as he exited the aircraft he told Greyhound 25, "If there are any survivors, I'll stay with them in the LZ until we can get them out!" The courage, determination and brotherhood shown by CW2 Ewing, SP5 Tagliaferri and the other two crew members of this Greyhound SLICK, were the very reason the ground forces the 240th supported respected the Greyhounds and Mad Dogs to the highest degree!
If you were a member of the 240th AHC on the Benavidez mission and we don't have your name listed or the information is incomplete or inaccurate, please contact us so we can make you a part of this tribute and make any corrections.
Special Forces Creed
I am an American Special Forces soldier. A professional! I will do all that my nation requires of me. I am a volunteer, knowing well the hazards of my profession. I serve with the memory of those who have gone before me: Roger's Rangers, Francis Marion, Mosby's Rangers, the first Special Service Forces and Ranger Battalions of World War II, the Airborne Ranger Companies of Korea. I pledge to uphold the honor and integrity of all I am - in all I do.
I am a professional soldier. I will teach and fight wherever my nation requires. I will strive always, to excel in every art and artifice of war.
I know that I will be called upon to perform tasks in isolation, far from familiar faces and voices, with the help and guidance of my God.
I will keep my mind and body clean, alert and strong, for this is my debt to those who depend upon me.
I will not fail those with whom I serve.
I will not bring shame upon myself or the forces.
I will maintain myself, my arms, and my equipment in an immaculate state as befits a Special Forces soldier.
I will never surrender though I be the last. If I am taken, I pray that I may have the strength to spit upon my enemy.
My goal is to succeed in any mission - and live to succeed again.
I am a member of my nation's chosen soldiery. God grant that I may not be found wanting, that I will not fail this sacred trust.
"De Opresso Liber"
Honored Guest of the 240th AHC Reunion,
May, 1997, Washington, DC:
Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient,
MSG. Roy P. Benavidez
Roy P. Benavidez Foundation, Inc
Mad Dogs, Greyhounds, Kennel Keepers