Rescuing Marines From Vietnam's Deadly Minefield: The Heroic Story Of Raymond Clausen

 July 13, 2023

The Vietnam War witnessed numerous acts of valor, among them the heroism of Raymond Clausen, a U.S. Marine Corps enlistee and helicopter mechanic.

Deployed near Da Nang, Clausen's courage came to the fore during a dangerous rescue mission on January 31, 1970. Observing concealed enemy bunkers from his helicopter, he discovered several Marines had triggered hidden landmines.

Ignoring personal safety, Clausen directed the helicopter to a safe landing spot and traversed the minefield six times to save his injured compatriots. His daring rescue saved 18 lives, earning him 98 air medals and over 3,000 hours of flight time.

His commendable bravery was acknowledged on June 15, 1971, when President Nixon awarded him the Medal of Honor.

This article delineates Clausen's early life, the Da Nang rescue mission, and his Medal of Honor recognition, underscoring the unwavering courage of servicemen during the Vietnam War.

Early Life and Enlistment

Raymond Clausen, who would later become a Medal of Honor recipient for his heroic actions in Vietnam, enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1966 and underwent training as a helicopter mechanic.

Immersed in the technical side of military aviation, Clausen demonstrated an aptitude for his chosen field. This training prepared him for his role in the Marines and the challenges he would later face on the battlefield.

Following his training, Clausen completed a tour of duty before making the decision to return to Vietnam, a move that was against the wishes of his mother. Despite this familial opposition, Clausen was committed to his military service and was subsequently deployed to an enemy-infested area near Da Nang in January 1970.

Da Nang Rescue Mission

On January 31, 1970, a perilous mission unfolded in the enemy-infested area near Da Nang, where an unexpected minefield resulted in multiple casualties among the deployed troops.

Raymond Clausen, a helicopter mechanic, noticed concealed enemy bunkers near the tree line. He guided the pilot to land in a safe zone after his fellow Marines stepped on landmines.

Undeterred by the imminent danger, Clausen ran through the minefield to rescue the wounded. In a heroic display of courage and determination, he made six separate trips across the minefield, saving 18 Marines from certain death.

Clausen's actions on this day were instrumental in minimizing casualties, demonstrating a level of bravery and selflessness that would later earn him the Medal of Honor.

Medal of Honor Recognition

For his exceptional bravery and self-sacrifice during the Da Nang mission, he was bestowed with the Medal of Honor by President Nixon on June 15, 1971.

This highest military honor was conferred in recognition of his daring rescue operation in a mine-riddled field near Da Nang, Vietnam, where Clausen saved 18 fellow Marines from imminent death.

The award citation commended his extraordinary heroism, unwavering courage, and disregard for personal safety. Clausen, who had previously served as a helicopter mechanic, displayed profound leadership and resilience during this perilous operation.

His gallant actions are a testament to the Marine Corps' commitment to 'leave no man behind', a creed that underscored Clausen's valorous act in the face of grave danger.


In conclusion, Raymond Clausen's heroic actions during the Vietnam War exemplify the courage and dedication of servicemen in times of conflict.

His exceptional bravery, demonstrated by risking his life to rescue fellow marines from a deadly minefield, earned him the prestigious Medal of Honor.

Clausen's story continues to inspire, serving as a testament to the valor of those who serve in the military.

His contributions to the war effort underscore the significance of individual acts of heroism in the broader context of war.

Frequently Asked Questions

How did Clausen's experience as a helicopter mechanic contribute to his actions during the rescue mission?

Clausen's training as a helicopter mechanic likely enhanced his understanding of the aircraft's capabilities and operation, thereby enabling him to effectively direct the pilot to safe landing areas during the hazardous rescue mission.

How did Clausen's actions in the Da Nang mission impact his later career in the Marine Corps?

Clausen's heroic actions during the Da Nang mission significantly bolstered his career in the Marine Corps, earning him prestige and recognition that included 98 air medals and the esteemed Medal of Honor.

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