Third Distinguished Flying Cross…

 

SUBMITTED November 11th, 2019
by DAL
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Distinguished Flying Cross

Some military awards are handed out like gold stars in an elementary grade school. All you have to do is show up and you can get one…The Good Conduct Medal comes to mind. The Distinguished Flying Cross is not such an award. The DFC is an award of valor presented to airmen who have distinguished themselves in aerial operations. Forrest earned more than one of these during his tour in Vietnam. This is about his third DFC.

dfc copy

The citation for his award reads:
Major Forrest B. Fenn distinguished himself by heroism while participating in aerial
flight as an F-100 pilot in the Delta Region of South Vietnam on 24 August 1968.

On that date, Major Fenn, using the call sign limit 52, was flying as wingman and pilot
in a flight of two F-100s on a close air support mission.The target was troops in
close contact and an unknown number of active automatic weapons positions When Limit
51 Flight arrived in the target area, a flight of two F-100s were bombing targets
which were in tree lines on both sides of a small canal. The friendlies had already
marked their positions with red smoke and were located 50, 150, and 200 meters from
the active enemy gun positions.

After one of the F-100 aircraft was hit with automate weapons fire , they departed for home. The forward air controller (FAC) , Andy 76, briefed limit 51 Flight on all aspects of the target including the heavy ground fire and the dangerous proximity of friendly forces.

Because it was not feasible to drop the four M-117 high drag bombs on the targets nearest the friendlies, Major Fenn was instructed by Andy 76 to move 150 meters east and hit the enemy firing from a position on the south side of the canal. The exact target position was described, marked with a white phosphorus rocket, and Major Fenn was cleared in. Although the automatic weapons fire continued from at least three positions, Major Fenn, with total disregard for his own personal safety, delivered two 750 pound bombs from 500 feet which landed precisely on the target destroying the automatic weapons position.

On his next two bomb passes, Major Fenn delivered two more 750 pound bombs with equally devastating results on an enemy location just across the canal south of the first target with all bombs expended, he was cleared to move west and strafe the enemy gun location 50 meters from the friendly forces. Because of the seriousness of the tactical situation on the ground, Major Fenn elected to concentrate his strafe in hopes of silencing the guns that were still active in several positions.

On his first strafe pass, with airspeed in excess of 510 knots, Major Fenn fired a burst of 350 rounds of 20MM high explosive incendiary. Andy 76 reported the fire to be “exactly on target.”

During the pull out Major Fenn felt his aircraft jolt with the impact of three hits in the fuselage. One bullet entered the engine accessory section, starting an oil fire which immediately filled the cockpit with smoke. The other two hits were sustained in the forward fuselage fuel tank causing two small holes and a hole “big enough to put a football in.

After declaring an emergency, Major Fenn turned his crippled F-1OO toward Binh Thuy
Air Base 4O miles to the south. A quick fuel check revealed 4200 pounds total
remaining. However, the forward fuselage tank, which feeds the engine, had lost over
1000 pounds in less than two minutes. Major Fenn initiated emergency procedures which
were successful in removing some of the smoke that was burning his eyes. The extreme
critical situation caused by fuel pouring overboard faster than the boost pumps could
replenish the fuel tank prompted Major Fenn to level his aircraft at 6000 feet and
throttle back to reduce fuel consumption.

With 33 miles remaining, the forward fuel tank had depleted to 400 pounds which is 200 pounds below emergency fuel. Although the runway was 4000 feet shorter than is normally required for F-100 operation and realizing that he could not use power required to establish a normal approach, Major Fenn elected to continue in an attempt to save the aircraft. With four miles still remaining, on a straight-in gliding approach, Major Fenn called “zero fuel,” and the engine flamed out approximately 1/4 mile from the end of the runway. He realized it would be extremely close, but decided to attempt a “dead stick” landing to save the F-100. Major Fenn landed in the first 200 feet of the runway and made an approach end engagement of the BAK-9 barrier to insure that he stayed on the short narrow run-way.

The professionalism exhibited by Major Fenn in an extreme emergency situation
not only dealt the hostile force a devastating blow, but also saved a valuable combat
aircraft. The outstanding heroism and selfless devotion to duty displayed by Major
Fenn reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.

JOHN S. RIVERS, Lt Col, USAF
Commander

Forrest’s handwritten note added to the citation:
The Viet Cong blew up the F-100 that night. So much for saving the aircraft!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

88 thoughts on “Third Distinguished Flying Cross…

  1. Wow. This really puts all of our relatively minor problems and difficulties in perspective. Thank you for your bravery and service.

  2. Seven percent of American adults are veterans. That’s 18 million people. The number of veterans is declining — there were more than 26 million in 2000. This is partly due to the military shrinking in size and older veterans passing away.

    • I wish more people received military training….but a declining number of veterans also shows that we have not recently drafted millions to fight in worthless wars.

    • Dal. I couldn’t help but to read what you you just posted. First. Thank you for posting the additional information about Mr. Fenn and his war efforts. I have sent Mr. Fenn my appreciation for his services. So that aside and with no disrespect to you. Your beginning post concerns me. When you compare gold stars given to children for just showing up to unworthy military receprecants of metals. I have a problem. Either you just didn’t think that clearly through or you have another message to convey. Some children can barely show up. And anyone that signs up to put there life on the line is entitled to at least a metal if not more. My youngest daughter is going to inlist and I still have family members messed up from the war. So I hope you can see my point of view and that like Mr. Fenn does well and we all try to follow , you are not on the same engagement.

    • Dal,

      As an elected member of our community, I just returned from a Veteran event and was shocked to find out from our 33rd District Assemblyman that this current year 17% of veterans take their own life. The Assemblyman stated that it was a good number because it is down from 20% last year. I thought for a minuet and said to myself wow a 3% reduction. Then I approached the Assemblyman and told him that even 1 is too many and that as my representative I expect him to do everything humanly possible to fight for our servicemen and women. Our Veterans owe us NOTHING they have already paid their price. We owe them EVERYTHING, as they are the ones that have chosen to make the ultimate sacrifice by taking a stand for our freedom!

      Proud and loyal father of 2 military Veterans.

    • Dal: This award should actually be his third Distinguished Flying Cross, since the certificate says it is his second oak leaf cluster. An oak leaf cluster represents an additional award, so if someone wears a medal with two oak leaf clusters, it represents three total awards. There would have been an initial award, a second award (first oak leaf cluster), and a third award (second oak leaf cluster). Maybe he can tell us about the other awards!

      • David-
        You are correct. I changed second to third on this story. Thanks for squaring me away. This was Forrest’s last DFC award during his tour in Vietnam. So he went home with a Silver Star, three DFCs, a Bronze Star, a Purple Heart and 14 Air Medals…plus the usual Vietnam Service Medal and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign medal. That’s a lot of experience…

  3. Thank you for sharing the story of Mr. Fenn’s military award. A big hug to thank the Major for all he has done. A hero as far as I’m concerned.

  4. Forrest,

    Thank you for your service brave service in the military!
    You are a true hero. Happy Veteran’s day to you and all
    of the brave veterans on this site. Thanks again!

  5. Bravo Forrest! I salute you sir and those who have sacrificed and served to preserve our freedoms.

    And thank you for posting this Dal. And now we know the rest of that story.

    I’m going to forward this to my brother Mike who flew SAR (A-7s) in Nam, and was based in Korat, Thailand, where I had the pleasure of completely surprising him at Christmas in 1974. The smile on his face when he walked into the briefing room after landing that day is a look I will cherish forever.

    Pinatubocharlie

  6. Thanks Dal!
    Incredible story Forrest. You deserved that DFC award. Thank you to all vets and active service as well. Words can’t be told of our appreciation!

  7. Thank you for posting Dal and Forrest, and thank you for your service. We don’t want to be looking for hints in everything but that award has two Brown signatures. 🙂

  8. Thanks for posting the story, Dal. Forrest deserves to be called a hero for his service in Vietnam. All veterans, especially those who served in combat, deserve our compassion and deep appreciation. Happy Veterans Day!

  9. Forrest,

    Thank you for your service. Happy Veterans Day to all whom have served and continue to serve.

    For me It’s also a day of reflection. Enjoy your day.

    ByGeorge

  10. Thank you for your service Mr. Fenn. While on a deployment in 2014 our platoon was fortunate enough to receive aid from an A-10 Warthog while receiving enemy fire in a danger close situation. To this day whenever I hear a resemblance of that brrrrt sound it brings a smile to my face. Happy Veterans Day to all those who served.

  11. I saw a video of Forrest at Fennboree 2019 where he also mentioned this story. The part left out here is that the barrier is supposed to catch you if you can’t stop at the far end of the runway. Well the barrier was up on the close end of the runway to him and not the far end. Forrest hit it with a whole lot of speed and messed his back up. He said he hid his injury so he wouldn’t be grounded and that he really was lucky to be alive after that day.

  12. My oldest Brother, who enlisted in the army during the Vietnam War, married a wonderful girl who was from South Korea.
    Forrest had enlisted during the Korean War.
    I had e-mailed Forrest a thank you, because it was great Americans like himself who saved those people from falling under control of North Korea. Then where would my sister-in-law had been, if anywhere?
    I just wanted this thankyou to be public this time.
    And Forrest has proven his valor in civilian life as well, over the many years he’s been blessed with. Saving someone else’s Clover Point Collection from being broken up (an important thing for future study), his many generous deeds, his leadership and common sense, all the way to this Treasure Quest for the public benefit.

    Thank you, Forrest.
    Thank you, Veterans.

  13. OOOOh my, Mr. Fenn, you have my utmost respect.
    You are among the many who gave their all so that we can live free.
    Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (and the pursuit of this dang TC), rights given to us by our Creator, but assisted by so many others – Thank You to America’s finest.

  14. ..not meaning to detract from the seriousness of remembrance and gratitude but that title to the gold is signed by two guys named Brown.

    I’m playing The Last Post at 11.11 (about 15 minutes from now)..

    Peace everyone.

  15. I said, “Oh! Oh!”, several times while reading that story. That was quite the athletic fete from likely the best pilot around. Thank you for your service, sir.

  16. Well just one second there Mr. Fenn. Had you not saved that aircraft the first time, perhaps the Viet Cong would have found another, more costly target. Everything happens for a reason I suppose.

    Prospector

  17. Forrest – You are on my mind, and in my prayers, on this 11-11-19 Veterans Day, as you have been on every Veterans Day, since 2013, when I joined The Chase. Thank you for your astonishing heroism, and, especially, for your extreme courage under fire in the air.

    I will let Douglas Preston put this in perspective for everyone reading Dal’s excellent blog tribute. From the forward he wrote for Forrest’s “Once Upon A While” book:

    “Here is a man who came from a small town in Texas, barely graduated from high school, spent 20 years in the Air Force as a fighter pilot, flew 328 combat missions in Vietnam over a period of 348 days, survived being shot down twice, and was awarded a raft of medals.”

    Imagine, after reading about how Forrest received the Distinguished Service Cross above, what kind of bravery it required to put an F-100 jet in the air, over and over again, facing conditions just like those described by Dal in the scrapbook above. Think about it. I have.

    Bravo, Forrest!

  18. Thank you dal, Mr. Fenn and all Veterans today. Not just because I looked up and saw it was 2:30 and Veteran’s day. But because every day we are free, as Americans, to never forget why we owe our Veteran’s the utmost respect and gratitude.

  19. Thank You Forrest and other Veterans for your service to our Nation, I salute you all. You remind us that there are those willing to lay down their lives for us all…a sacrifice only a few can make. I pray for our Vets suffering in silence, May God help them all get Home!

  20. Forrest,
    Thank you for your distinguished service!
    You deserve a boa hug from a proud American!
    I stand with you and all that serve this great nation..

    • There are various ways you can. It doesn’t have to be in combat or
      even as part of a military thing. Have you ever thought about volunteering or contributing to help veterans or active members
      of our armed forces? As always, IMO.

  21. Thank you Dal for sharing. Every time I learn more about Mr. Fenn’s time serving our country, I feel is has been way too humble. Thank you to all veterans.

  22. Forrest, thanks for your Bravery Sir, as one of our great nation’s finest.
    I salute you along with all veterans and active duty soldiers serving the Home of the Brave & the Land of the Free.

    Dal, did Forrest receive 3 distinguished flying crosses? It would be interesting to hear the other accounts. Thanks

  23. Thank you for sharing, Dal. A heroic story with an ironic ending! Happy Veteran’s Day to men and women everywhere who have served our country so valiantly.

  24. Thank you for this information, Dal.

    Thank you, Major Fenn, for your service to our country.
    May your wish (and messages) for peace help decrease the amount of physical war
    in the world.

    As always, this message is part of my opinion.

  25. Thanks for sharing this, Dal. After reading the description of that day, I’d say Forrest had nerves of steel. My respect and thanks to all who served.

  26. Thank you and Happy Veterans Day to all the Veterans and current active military members out there… Your service, courage and bravery is why we are all here today…

  27. Thanks Dal for posting this Thrilling account of Major Fenn’s Flying Cross. Talk about your heavy Loads. It was like reading a suspense thriller.
    I don’t think I’ve ever seen the flying cross up close before. I really like the cross arms made as propellers.

    Happy Veterans’ s Day and Thank you for your service and to all who have served and continue to serve. Forest, you and my Dad are my favorite Majors. Lol ( you and he are the same age)
    Warm Regards, Colleen

    • Ahhh! Sorry I spelled your name wrong! I should just stick to Major Fenn. PS ..so I’ve said before that Home of Brown reflects the Indian Navigation point of “UP” or Sky. (That’s just my 1st “go ’round” with HOB)

  28. This is with no disrespect to the veterans who served in that ______ war. There’s a big difference between honoring and supporting the vet and not necessarily the war.

    Instead of the well-intentioned but increasingly empty “thank you for your service” cliche, many veterans have suggested that a more fitting tribute would be to exercise that hard-fought right to vote, as an informed voter, and, as ff said in TFTW, “insert more influence on those in our government who are making the big decisions.”

    IMO, we could better honor vets by making darn sure the blood being spilled is worth it and SPEAKING UP when it’s not and not just jump on every war bandwagon without any thought and mistake that for patriotism.

  29. Ok Forrest the plane was not really the valuable part, you saved a pilot so he could fight another day. one that the military spent a great deal of time training and equipping. the silver lining to the silver lining is coming home .. win win … 🙂

  30. What an awesome story. Got me all teary eyed lol. Thank you for your service vets. I’m grateful for all that you do and have done for us.

  31. Dal, I may be wrong and I’m a little late at reading this, but at first you wrote Major Fern limit 52 and all the others were Major Fenn limit 51. Was it Forrest as limit 51 or 52 or am I not understanding something? Thank you veterans for your service!

  32. Some interesting coincidences in this story. Much like F’s telling of the story, with some additional details. It was actually while watching the MASH finale on antenna TV the other night that I had a revelation.

    The poem is more than just a poem to find a treasure chest.

    It’s a very creative retelling of his experience so he can not only share his story,
    but have you, metaphorically experience the same.

    Read his account of the events and compare it to the poem. It is one in the same.

    With a small detail given above, I am now 100% positive of the area. Still kicking myself for having been so close on my last outing.

    And regardless if it is indeed there or not, I look forward to walking those same steps, side by side with FF, experiencing just a small piece of what his journey was like, and then afterwards when telling my story, I also include his story.

    Not only of remembrance, but a never ending legacy.

  33. Thank you Forrest for your outstanding bravery, heroism and service to our country. You are truly an honorable and admirable man!

  34. I’m curious to know why Major Fenn’s name was spelled Major Fern 5 times… That is fishy. I felt like I was flying right next to Major Fern when I was reading this report of heroism. Thank you for all you have done for us F! We hope you enjoy the remaining time you have left with us!

    • David-
      That would be my fault. Thanks for pointing out the misspelling. The original document was scanned and the text was pulled out of the scan using OCR technology (optical character recognition)…which is prone to errors. It apparently saw the “nn” as “rn”. I thought I corrected all the errors…but I didn’t notice that his name was misspelled. I’ll correct that now.

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