For heroic achievement in connection with operations against insurgent communist (Viet Cong) forces in the Republic of Vietnam. On 26 May 1966, while leading a fifteen man team of pathfinders into position in the early morning hours in preparation for a predawn helicopter strike, Sergeant VANNATTA discovered that his element was being followed by a Viet Cong force. Reacting instantly, he deployed his team into hasty ambush positions and awaited the enemy. When the Viet Cong force entered the killing zone, he unleashed the ambush, killing six, wounding eight and capturing two weapons. He then calmly continued on his original mission to mark the landing zone to insure a safe location for the helicopters. Sergeant VANNATTA’s professional skill, exceptional leadership, and daring initiative prevented the enemy force from inflicting casualties among his patrol members or endangering the subsequent helicopter landings, and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
Sergeant VANNATTA is authorized to wear the Combat V.