Saturday, December 02, 2023

Alexander R. Russell

| November 11, 2021 1:00 AM

All told, Alexander R. Russell served three tours in Vietnam during his 20 years in the U.S. Army.

The first tour was from 1963-'64, the second from 1967-'68, and the third was from 1971-'72. When he retired from the service, he had flowing hundred of flights and more than 3,000 hours in a variety of helicopters and aircraft.

He also would retire having earned two Purple Heart awards, the first during his first tour in 1964 when during one flight, a round would come through the floor of the helicopter and strike him in the wrist. A fragment would later be dug from the chopper and presented to Russell. He still has that fragment, he added.

During his second tour, Russell was fresh off a R&R visit stateside when he walked into the commander's quarters to catch up. It was then, they learned of a big battle up north and a helicopter was needed for reconnaissance. The captain in charge turned to Russell and asked him what he would do.

Send a chopper up for support and and put another on standby, Russell told him. As soon as the orders were relayed, the pair talked a bit more, when they learned the standby chopper was needed for reconnaissance.

"Want to go flying," the captain asked.

The pair hopped into the captain's helicopter and headed north. As they flew toward the battle, Russell heard the first chopper radio a warning to not come in from the south, that an ambush had been laid and the chopper and its crew were in danger.

A slight second later, the captain having not heard the warning, Russell said he says a tracer line headed their way. One of the rounds would pierce the helicopter and strike him in the right shoulder, causing massive blood loss.

He would spend months recuperating and would be awarded a second Purple Heart medal.

In addition to the Purple Heart medals, Russell was presented with a Bronze Star, a Vietnam Cross of Gallantry, and more than a dozen of other medals.

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