US Coins

Vietnam war medical crews could receive gold medal

A rescue helicopter from the 57th Medical Detachment extracts wounded soldiers from the battlefields of Vietnam.

Battle image courtesy of This Day in Aviation; original patch image courtesy of Worthpoint.

Legislation introduced in March seeks a congressional gold medal to recognize the Dustoff crews, who medically evacuated by helicopter, under heavy enemy fire, wounded soldiers from the battlefields during the Vietnam War and transported them to aid stations.

H.R. 2281 was introduced March 29 by Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Wash.

The bill was referred to the Committee on Financial Services, and in addition to the Committee on House Administration.

The legislation would allow the Treasury secretary to have the U.S. Mint strike and offer for sale to the public 3-inch and 1.5-inch bronze duplicates of the gold medal.


The Dustoff crews of Vietnam era continued the tradition of the helicopter ambulance corps established during the Korean War. So successful were medevac operations in Vietnam that a wounded soldier would be in a hospital receiving medical care within 35 minutes of being wounded.

According to The Vietnam Center & Sam Johnson Vietnam Archive at Texas Tech University, in April of 1962, the 57th Medical Detachment (Helicopter Ambulance) arrived in Vietnam with five UH-1 “Huey” helicopters. They took the call sign Dustoff for radio communications. A Dustoff crew consisted of four people: two pilots, a medic and a crew chief.

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