The North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong successfully coordinated a surprise attack on South Vietnamese and American bases. Hue was hit hardest.
Fighting For Hue
No one thought that the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese would ever take the city, so it was left completely unprepared for an attack. As a result, there were very few soldiers defending the city when they attacked early in the morning, as they were celebrating the Tet holiday.
The U.S. Marines went in for a counterattack but did not know many details. There was no after incident report of the losses or how many enemy forces remained in the city.
Granted, inside the city was a different story. The communist forces were driving at the ARVN who were there, taking control of the old citadel and attacking the base. An American UH-1 Huey was sent in and was immediately surrounded by North Vietnamese and Viet Cong soldiers.
Assist by Ferguson
Chief Warrant Officer Frederick Ferguson was close by in his Huey. While the intel may have been slim, the American forces knew that it was not good. Ferguson was told not to help the Huey on the ground. An order he could not comply with.
He was on a resupply mission at the time and changed course to head to Hue, taking on anti-aircraft fire. He dropped to a low level flying over the Perfume River as fast as he could.
He was able to find the ARVN base and the helicopter, taking on small arms fire while landing, squeezing into a tight space to reach the survivors and land. He started throwing out unnecessary supplies and cargo, making room for those who survived the crash and those who were wounded.
However, Ferguson was able to get his helicopter into the air, even with the damage. The helicopter sustained more damage as it flew out of the area. Ferguson was able to save five soldiers’ lives, taking them back to Phu Bai.
Honors and Medals
He received the first Medal of Honor given to an Army aviator in the Vietnam war. It was presented to him by President Nixon. Ferguson also received many other honors throughout his career, including two Silver Stars, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star, and 39 Air Medal. He also appeared on a U.S. stamp while he was still alive.