As Air Mission Commander, I led around 60 air crew and hundreds of troops (both US and Army of the Republic of Vietnam or ARVN). One day, as leader of 10 ‘slicks’, I flew for 13 hours … all combat assaults. We were given a critical task to bring in troops to relieve another company. Upon landing, we received enemy fire from all directions. While it took about 15 seconds to get our troops out, it seemed like an hour or more. We could have only been on our way for less than a minute when a call for an urgent medevac came. With two gunships for company, I went back in and picked up two South Vietnamese troops and their American major adviser. I gave him my best smile. Though pretty hurt, he managed to give the ‘thumbs up’ and a bit of a wave as he left on a stretcher. For this and a few other similar incidents, I was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross in Buckingham Palace by HM Queen Elizabeth II.