James A. Gardner
First Lieutenant James A. Gardner, United States Army. On 7 February 1966 Lieutenant James A. Gardner’s platoon was advancing to relieve a company of the 1st Battalion (Airborne), 327th Infantry, that had been pinned down for several hours by a numerically superior enemy force in the village of My Canh, Vietnam. The enemy occupied a series of strongly fortified bunker positions which were mutually supporting and expertly concealed. Approaches to the position were well covered by an integrated pattern of fires including automatic weapons, machineguns and mortars. Air strikes and artillery placed on the fortifications had little effect. Lieutenant Gardner’s platoon was to relieve the friendly company by encircling and destroying the enemy force. Even as it moved to begin the attack, the platoon was under heavy enemy fire. During the attack, the enemy fire intensified. Leading the assault and disregarding his own safety, Lieutenant Gardner charged through a withering hail of fire across an open rice paddy. On reaching the bunker he destroyed it with a grenade and without hesitation dashed to the second bunker and eliminated it by tossing a grenade inside. Then, crawling swiftly along the dike of a rice paddy, he reached the third bunker. Before he could arm a grenade, the enemy gunner leaped forth firing at him. Lieutenant Gardner instantly returned the fire and killed the enemy gunner at a distance of six feet. Following the seizure of the main enemy position, he reorganized the platoon to continue the attack. Advancing to the new assault position, the platoon was pinned down by an enemy machine gun emplaced in a fortified bunker. Lieutenant Gardner immediately collected several grenades and charged the enemy position, firing his rifle as he advanced to neutralize the defenders. He dropped a grenade into the bunker and vaulted beyond. As the bunker blew up, he came under fire again. Rolling into a ditch to gain cover, he moved toward the new source of fire. Nearing the position, he leaped from the ditch and advanced with a grenade in one hand and firing his rifle with the other. He was gravely wounded just before he reached the bunker, but with a last valiant effort he staggered forward and destroyed the bunker and its defenders with a grenade. Although he fell dead on the rim of the bunker his extraordinary actions so inspired the men of his platoon that they resumed the attach and completely routed the enemy. Lieutenant Gardner’s conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity, above and beyond the call of duty were in the highest traditions of the United States Army.