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Ohio Military Hall of Fame
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Captain Robert L. Neff Class of 2016

Distinguished Flying Cross


Distinguished Flying Cross

For heroism and extraordinary achievement in aerial flight while serving with Marine Observation Squadron Six, Marine Aircraft Group Thirty-Six, First Marine Aircraft Wing in connection with operations against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam. On 8 October 1967, Captain NEFF launched as Pilot of an armed UH-1E helicopter assigned to support the insertion of fifty-two United States Army Special Forces troops deep in enemy controlled territory. Soon after the insertion, the friendly unit came under heavy small arms and automatic weapons fire and grenade attack by a company-size North Vietnamese Army unit. Quickly assessing the situation, Captain NEFF exhibited outstanding airmanship and bold initiative as he ignored the hazards of the mountainous terrain and the limited visibility due to the adverse weather conditions and unhesitatingly maneuvered his aircraft through the hostile ground fire on repeated strafing runs against the enemy positions. As a result of his accurate rocket and machine gun fire the North Vietnamese momentarily halted their attack and decreased the volume of fire in the area. Informed that three seriously wounded soldiers required immediate medical evacuation, he unhesitatingly decided to attempt to extract the casualties. Although the casualties' injuries were too critical to enable them to be moved to a suitable landing zone, Captain NEFF displayed exceptional aeronautical ability and courage as he completely disregarded his own safety and successfully maneuvered his helicopter in a precarious four-foot hover above the difficult terrain, skillfully avoiding damage to his aircraft's rotor blades from trees in the zone. Continually subjected to intense automatic weapons fire, he steadfastly maintained the hover until the wounded men were embarked. He then maneuvered the heavily loaded aircraft out of the hazardous zone and expeditiously departed the hostile area for the nearest medical facility. Captain NEFF's superior airmanship, bold initiative and selfless devotion to duty at great personal risk were instrumental in saving the lives of the wounded men and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.