A 70-year-old Vietnam War veteran was honored by President Donald Trump with the Medal of Honor during a ceremony at the White House on Monday.
Cpt. Gary Michael Rose was presented the honor by Trump nearly 50 years after serving in Vietnam. It took so long for Rose to receive the medal because the information leading of his action was kept classified for many years.
Rose was an Army medic and was on a top secret mission in Laos when his unit was attacked over the span of four days. He engaged the enemy and ran into incoming fire to treat his fellow soldiers, keeping them alive for days during the attacks until they were rescued by a helicopter.
Here’s what you need to know about Rose:
1. Rose is Credited With Saving Multiple Lives During Attacks While Injured
In September 1970, Rose was inserted inside Laos in Operation Tailwind, a diversionary operation that ended in many deaths and wounded soldiers. There, he was responsible for the medical care of 15 Americans and 120 Montagnards. Once he was with the group, they entered enemy territory and made contact with the North Vietnamese Army, who fired and wounded two Americans and two Montagnards on the first day of the mission.
Rose’s profile on the Army’s official website states that he “engaged the enemy while treating and stabilizing” an injured American soldier, carrying him over his shoulder through heavy gunfire and back to a safe area. The group continued to advance into enemy territory and suffered many casualties along the way. Despite the warfare, Rose pressed on and treated the wounded while undergoing fire from the NVA. At times, he was forced to crawl from position to position to treat the wounded, narrowly being missed by gunfire.
During a September 12 assault, a Montagnard was wounded and Rose came to the rescue. With a gun in hand, Rose crawled his way to the injured man, shielding him with his body at times while treating him. He dragged the man back to the company with one hand while firing his weapon with the other. When he returned to the group, he was hit with shrapnel in his back and leg from an NVA rocket-propelled grenade. The shrapnel crippled his foot, and he was forced to use a stick as a crutch while treating the wounded and ignoring his own injuries.
A helicopter came to rescue the group, but it underwent intense gunfire and crashed nearby shortly after aborting the mission. On September 14, the group was told that hundreds of NVA were advancing toward them. Suddenly, they launched an attack, leading to more injuries and casualties. Instinctively, Rose emerged and continued treating the wounded, ignoring his personal injuries.
After four days, a helicopter was able to load up the group, taking on gunfire along the way. While in the air, the helicopter came under attack and ultimately crashed. Even while he was dazed from the crash, Rose went back to the wreckage to pull out the wounded and unconscious soldiers. As they returned to the base, he refused all treatment until those in his unit were treated first.
The military credited him with treating 60-70 wounded soldiers and saving many lives. Rose was nominated for the Medal of Honor in 1971, but it was downgraded to the Distinguished Service Cross because of the classification of the Laos mission.
2. Trump Honored Rose During a Ceremony
On October 23, Trump, surrounded by military veterans, honored Rose for his service.
“For many years, the story of Mike’s heroism has gone untold. But today we gather to tell the world of his valor and proudly present him with our nation’s highest military honor,” Trump said.
Watch Trump’s full speech during the presentation of the Medal of Honor above.
The ceremony was held in the East Room of the White House, and Trump told the military officials in attendance that the award would “enshrine (Rose) into the history of our nation.”
“Your will to endure, your love for your fellow soldier, your devotion to your country inspires us all,” Trump said to Rose during his remarks. “I have to tell you, that is something. Nations are formed out of the strength and patriotism that lives in the hearts of our heroes.”
3. Rose Volunteered for the Army After His Father Encouraged Him to Not Get Drafted Into the Marines
Rose was born on October 17, 1947 in Watertown, New York before moving to the Los Angeles area. He attended James Monroe High School in Northridge, California and graduated in 1965. Two years after his high school graduation, Rose volunteered for the U.S. Army.
According to a profile on the Army’s website, Rose had been told by his father, who was drafted into the Marine Corps, that he didn’t want to be drafted into Marine Corps. So instead, he volunteered for the Army and attended basic training in California before being promoted to private first class. He also attended the Ary’s Jump School at Fort Benning, Georgia.
In 1968, he graduated from Special Forces Training as a Special Forces medic and was subsequently assigned to the 7th Special Forces Group. In April 1969, he was assigned to the 46th Special Forces Company in Thailand and was reassigned to the Military Assistance Command in Vietnam in April 1969.
4. Rose Received His Bachelor’s Degree & Master’s Degree After His Vietnam Service
After his service in Vietnam, Rose was sent to the Spanish Language School in Washington D.C., where he decided to attend Officer Candidate School because the contract he signed allowed him to bring his wife with him to Panama. He completed the school and was assigned to the 8th Special Forces Group in Panama, a place he stayed until August 1973.
Eventually, Rose was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the field artillery and graduated from Cameron University in Oklahoma with a bachelor’s degree in general education and military science. He also earned a master’s degree in communication from the University of Oklahoma in December 1989.
Rose retired from the Army in May 1987 and worked a an instructional designer writing operator and also designed training for the manufacturing industry. He retired from the workforce in 2010. During his retirement, he’s been active with charities, mainly through the Knights of Columbus.
5. Rose Got Married in 1971 & Has 3 Children
Rose has been married to his wife Margaret wince 1971 and they have two daughters together (Claire Rose and Sarah Bowen) and a son (Michael Rose).
During his military service, he received: the Distinguished Service Cross, the Bronze Star Medal with one oak leaf cluster and “V” device, the Purple Heart with two oak leaf clusters, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, the Good Conduct Medal with two knots, National Defense Medal, Vietnam Campaign with star, Presidential Unit Citation (MAC SOG), Vietnam Civic Action Honor Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry Unit Citation – with Palm Combat Medical Badge, Special Forces Tab, U.S. Army Parachute Badge, Thai Army Parachute Badge, Vietnam Parachute Badge, and several service ribbons.