As the co-pilot of a UH-1E (Huey) helicopter in August 1967, Marine Corps Capt. Rupert “Skeets” Fairfield participated in the rescue of several Army soldiers who were being attacked by about 40 Viet Cong on the beach. The soldiers were being beaten and bayonetted when they arrived on the scene.
After several low-level attacks to chase off the enemy, Capt. Fairfield left the aircraft to go to the trapped soldiers rescue. He pulled a machine gun from its mount and used it to drive off some of the Viet Cong, shot others with his pistol and managed to help carry three of the wounded Army soldiers to the helicopter. Finally he ran to save a fourth soldier; wherein he again met heavy enemy fire, only to discover that the man was already dead. Fairfield returned to the helicopter, which was damaged and overloaded. Fortunately the Huey was able to take off and fly out over the ocean away from the enemy fire sometimes only 10 feet above the waves. The three rescued soldiers were eventually given medical attention and managed to survive their ordeal.
Lt. Col. (Ret) Fairfield’s personal awards for combat valor include The Navy Cross, the Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medals. He will be the guest of honor at this Thursday’s “Heroes Among Us” gathering at Veterans Memorial Park. He will also be my guest at 5:10 pm on “Pensacola Speaks.”