TROY - A Troy native’s heroism in Vietnam was saluted 49 years later with the presentation of the Distinguished Service Cross.
Michael “Mick” DeHart was presented the medal May 7 in a ceremony in Troy by 8th District Congressman Warren Davidson.
Family and friends looked on as DeHart was recognized by Davidson and Army Col. Carter Price.
The Distinguished Service Cross is the second-highest military decoration to be awarded to a U.S. Army member. It is second only to the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Davidson called DeHart “an American hero.”
The process of reviewing DeHart’s actions took years, Davidson said, but didn’t take away from their importance and the extraordinary heroism displayed. The submission for a medal upgrade from a Silver Star to the Medal of Honor was made through the office of then-Congressman John Boehner.
Davidson said the actions of DeHart that April day in 1969 made the award of the Distinguished Service Cross ‘long overdue.”
The DeHarts were notified of the upgrade this month.
Davidson read a narrative of actions that led to the Distinguished Service Cross and the citation. The story, he said, was “amazing. It is truly heroic.”
The narrative focused on April 10, 1969, in Tay Ninh Province in the Republic of Vietnam where Staff Sgt. DeHart was serving with Reconnaissance Platoon, E Company, 2ndBattalion, 5thCavalry, 1stCavalry Division in combat operations.
The 24-man platoon was on a reconnaissance when it was ambushed.
“During an intense two-hour firefight … DeHart … exposed himself to enemy fire as he repeatedly moved man to man to direct the defense, redistribute ammunition and water and give encouragement,” the citation stated. “With the enemy within 25 yards and threatening to overrun his platoon, Staff Sgt. DeHart, at extreme risk to his life, rose up atop the crater fully exposed to the advancing enemy and delivered a devastating volume of fire from his M-60 machine gun that killed a number of enemy solider, broke the forward momentum of the attack, and forced the enemy to pull back.”
After directing the men to withdraw to an extraction site, DeHart was the last to board a helicopter, continuing to fire into the enemy as they lifted off.
Along with DeHart on the bomb crater was Specialist Four Jesus S. Duran, who was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously in 2014. DeHart attended the White House ceremony for that presentation. For his service in Vietnam, he was the recipient of the Combat Infantry Badge, two Silver Stars, one Bronze Star with “V” device (combat), Bronze Star for Meritorious Service, an Air Medal, Good Conduct medal and the Purple Heart.
DeHart returned home later in 1969. Retired, he spends time working with veterans and since 2007 has worked to find members of the unit in which he served and organized reunions.
In a narrative he wrote of the battle, DeHart said he has not been able “to truly bring out and discuss “ what he did during the battle.
“It has been counseling that has enabled me … Thank you all for coming. It means a lot to me,” DeHart said.
He and his wife, Carol, have four children. He was inducted into the Ohio Military Hall of Fame for Valor in 2009 and the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame in 2015.