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Kev in Deva

100+ Medals and awards to Armit Tilger

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Hallo Gents, :beer:

does anybody have any current info on:-

Armit Tilgner was an instructor pilot with the 1st Aviation Brigade's 128th Assault Helicopter Company. He served six tours in Vietnam, winning numerous awards, including four Bronze Stars, five Army Commendation Medals, three Meritorious Unit Commendation medals, two Valorous Unit Awards, and 136 Air Medal awards.

Kevin in Deva :beer:

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I had never heard of him . . .

He must have been the record holder in Air Medals :speechless1:

No SS or DFC's are mentioned, and AM's were given quite liberally during

the war . . . :rolleyes:

A google image shows a POW medal as well

The VUA and MUC are unit awards not personal. If he was in the unit during the awards

timeframe they were his to wear permanently

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In an earlier life, I knew several pilots from the Vietnam era with more than 100 air medals. The Air Medal was earned in many cases for 10 hours of flight time in contact. Doc

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Air Medals

I?ve been watching this thread and am compelled to dispel what I believe to be inaccuracies.

I base my statements on two things ? my service as an aviator in the Republic of Vietnam ? long standing study of military history.

Opinion ? since its inception, the Air Medal has been awarded for two reasons. These reasons are ? Valor, generally as a reward for single incidents ? Meritorious Achievement such as establishing an altitude record or a remarkable feat of airmanship OR extended meritorious performance of aviation duties. In the second case, I tend to liken this award to the WWII German operational flight clasps. The medal in World War II and since has seen used as a tangible signal of extended exposure to the risks of combat flying.

Opinion #2 ? the record for the number of air medals awarded is greater than that awarded to Mr. Tilgner. I recall reading of a mutli-tour aviation officer who exceeded this number and ultimately retired in the grade of general officer. As I can not provide documented evidence, I offer this as opinion only. I will also suggest that if Mr. Tilgner?s number is not the record, it is likely very close.

Opinion #3 ? the award criteria for air medals for merit for aviators was consistent from unit to unit and for the duration of the Vietnam War.

Opinion #4 ? I?ve NEVER heard of an Air Medal for 10 hours? must have been dropping nucs?

Observation ?

All flight duties in theater are not created equal.

The Army categorized types of flight three ways:

Combat Assault

Combat Support

Combat Service Support

Combat Assault was flight involving operations directly against the enemy such as airmobile assaults, extractions, cavalry operations, medivac and attack helicopter patrols. Direct contact with the enemy was both very likely and often intended.

Combat Support was flying to support operations but direct combat was not the intent.

Combat Service Support was all other flights in country such as courier, liaison, check rides and the like.

The standard for award of the air medal was 25 hours of CA, 50 hours of CS and 100 hours of CSS. There was no award for fractional amounts and I am not aware of fancy math such as 5 CA plus 15 CS plus 50 CSS yielding an air medal but that may have happened.

Fun with math:

Depending on the ?brand? flown by Mr. Tilgner, he must have flown between 3,400 and 13,600 hours in Vietnam.

More cherished than the air medal for some was the ?grounded for excessive hours? (medically forced) award. I?m told the figure was once 80 but when I served in RVN, we were restricted to a maximum of 120 hours in 30 days. Unless wavered for operational necessity (catch-22) once this figure was exceeded, you were grounded until your running 30 day total dropped below 120. Using this figure and 6 ?Normal Tour Complete?s, he could have had a maximum of 8,640 hours in Vietnam.

My conclusions:

Hard to imagine all those Air Medals for CA time and nothing but the ?been there; done that? Bronze Stars.

Good soldier and citizen who did his duty. At the extreme it could be 36 CSS & 100 CS ? we?ll never know unless we ask him?

Chuck in Oregon and I both flew for the 1st Cavalry Division. I have solicited his observations. He flew slicks and stated that infantry being carried into combat Landing Zones for assaults could receive an Air Medal for 5 such operations.

I flew Cobras with an Air Cavalry Troop flying missions such as visual reconnaissance, aerial escort and attack. My Air Medal total for one tour was 31 plus 2 with ?V?. I share this information for the reason of illustration only.

Edited by W McSwiggan

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Hi Mc, :beer:

thanks for your comments and input,

unfortunately we cant ask Mr, Tilger, as he lost his life in an helicopter accident in Java I believe, :(

Flying for a civil helicopter company. May He + Rest In Peace +

But I think there is still an interesting story waiting to be told.

Kevin in Deva. :beer:

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Thought I would add this to further appreciation for the meaning of 136 Air Medals in 6 tours.

From varying sources ? Hugh Mills ? author of ?Low Level Hell? and retired Lieutenant Colonel who was a Cavalry Scout and Cobra pilot for two tours accumulated 3,300 hours and 69 Air Medals. He was not credited with Air Medals for the last 8 months of his second tour at the end of US hostilities due to shabby administrative work. He would have received approximately 100 Air Medals for combat flying in his two years. Contrast this total with the 136 number for 6 tours.

Admittedly Captain Mills was what we termed a ?magnet ass? because of his ability to attract both metal (lead) and medals! My same sources also indicate that he received 3 Silver Stars, at least 4 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 3 Bronze Star Medals with ?V? device (these were, by regulation restricted to ground combat), 6 Air Medals with ?V? and 3 Purple Hearts.

If I have a chance and there is interest, I will try to provide more examples.

Edited by W McSwiggan

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Actually I was thinking of Hugh Mills when I first saw this thread, but

had no concrete info to add

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Sadly, memory does not serve as well as once it did. I recall only two classifications of flight hours. That memory is suspect, however, as I'm sure I wasn't paying attention at the time and I haven't thought of it in the intervening 37 years since. I gladly acknowledge that there may have been three. Heck, there may have been fifty for all that I remember.

I further seem to recall that one type, "CA" I suppose it was from this thread, was preferable to the other but I have no recollection why. Likely in furtherance of medal qualification but I simply don't know for sure. What I do seem to recall is that it didn't matter to us because all of our hours were being logged as those (CA?) hours. Can I support that? No, it's just the way I remember it but that memory is clear enough for my purposes.

As to the "shabby administrative work", I can attest that it was simply horrible. I remember leaving, thinking that I had earned X of this one and at least one of that one and so on. Nope. What finally caught up with me was unrecognizable as being connected to anything that I had done, almost as if there were no records of me being there at all until someone made them up.

A couple of decades later, for a purpose unrelated to this topic, I tried to check my records to find out why the discrepancies. I always wondered if it was because the 1st Cav had "gone home" to Texas by then, leaving those of us in the 3rd Bde. still there with darn little support. If things happened in 3rd Bde. but somehow needed to be ratified/certified/approved/whatever back in Ft. Hood, then I can see where the chances of it being done right were nil.

A year after my inquiry I received a duplicate set of what my DD-214 said I had earned. I hadn't asked for that or anything similar, I just wanted to see what they based my awards on and, if possible, set the record straight and, I have to admit, finally get whatever sparkly trinkets I had earned. It was purely selfish but nevertheless it's what I did. That experience cured me of ever wanting to set a military record straight, more fool I.

136 Air Medals was possible. In the early hottest war years 1,000 hours was common and 1,400 not unheard of. RW aviators were the only MOS subject to three involuntary tours so 3,000+ hours was possible. More than three tours, well, that was your own darn fault. I knew a few guys with 4+ tours but I don't remember any RW aviators, although I'm sure there were some. It was a dying business, that's for sure. I knew a grunt CSM with seven infantry tours, no PX duty for him. You can find his name in the very first pages of the book Hamburger Hill. He was my all-time hero.

FWIW, it has been my pleasure and privilege to occasionally correspond with W. McSwiggan. He saw the elephant and is deserving of respect. He's got a good mind for the details too, and I either agree with or learned something new from everything he has written in this thread. I'm sure glad there are guys like him.

Chuck

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... AM's were given quite liberally during

the war . . . :rolleyes:

* * * * *

My perspective is limited and personal, but that's not the way I remember it in the 1Cav in 1970-71. Quite the opposite, even allowing for some gaming of the system. I would be reluctant to accept that generalization (and the accompanying rolling eyes) without substantiation. It demeans and cheapens the efforts of a lot of good men.

Chuck

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Old guy?s opinion ? regard as such.

The Air Medal was awarded commonly to flight personnel during World War II and there seems to be little traction for disrespect for that policy. Air combat in the hostile skies of Europe and the Pacific theaters was horrendous. A tangible device for recognizing that exposure seems no more inappropriate than the Combat Infantryman?s Badge. The business of combat flying then did not make for low insurance premiums? now let?s ponder a bit ? how long was the normal mission to say ? Germany? Well over 6 hours per my estimate. How much of that time was spent in the ?poo? on a given mission ? I leave that estimate to you. I have no issue with the award of a medal for what those guys saw and did.

Contrast the ever-unpopular Vietnam experience. Single missions for the direct combat Army helicopters (scouts, lift-ships and guns) were usually shorter than 2 hours based on fuel loads alone. What percentage of that time was ?poo? time? I do not consider a ?Day Equivalent? spent enroute to and returning from a hot LZ where you got to go land in hostile territory, take fire and do other fun stuff to be particularly liberal especially in contrast to the WWII experience. When you consider the number of hours and sorties flown by our helicopter pilots, I?m not sure that the lightly made ?quite liberally roll eyes? comment was well considered. Of course there were many awarded ? there was a ton of very hazardous flying going on! Frankly, I find the implication very offensive.

I have nothing but deep respect for the Great Generation. They deserve every ounce of our appreciation for their sacrifice.

What I find disturbing is the lack of respect for the Vietnam combat veteran ? who ? by the way ? saw more combat than did his WWII counterpart. I seek no personal recognition because ? frankly Scarlet ? I don?t give a damn. But what does twist at my gut is the memory of the courageous young men and women who answered the call and served so honorably. Even today ? the lingering disrespect for these people infuriates me. They didn?t ask for anything but they certainly did not deserve what they got! Those who were not damaged beyond repair by their combat and subsequent experiences have done much for us. Who repaired the damage done to the US Army that later delivered Desert Storm?

If my brothers and I seem to have a hair trigger on this respect issue ? perhaps it is because we?ve listened to 30 plus years of this crud from people who have no clue.

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My perspective is limited and personal, but that's not the way I remember it in the 1Cav in 1970-71. Quite the opposite, even allowing for some gaming of the system. I would be reluctant to accept that generalization (and the accompanying rolling eyes) without substantiation. It demeans and cheapens the efforts of a lot of good men.

You are correct

It was a bad choice of words on my part

Mea Culpa

No disrespect was inferred, or intended

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People who were there, such as the late David Hackworth, maintain that medals were inflated and the awards system was out of control.

What I find disturbing is the lack of respect for the Vietnam combat veteran

In 2008-09 I find that extremely hard to believe.

Edited by Mike Page

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People who were there, such as the late David Hackworth, maintain that medals were inflated and the awards system was out of control.

In 2008-09 I find that extremely hard to believe.

With regard to your former, not all the "People who were there" share that opinion. In debate that argument is called "phantom support" and is generally discredited. The late Col. is not here to ask. I accept that he believed this to be true. Who am I to question what he believed?

There are at least two people on this forum with different experiences who are here to ask and they have expressed their thoughts. Who are you to question what they witnessed and believe to be true?

With regard to your latter, addressing the comment "What I find disturbing is the lack of respect for the Vietnam combat vet", I am compelled to quote my brother Wayne who wrote "... we?ve listened to 30 plus years of this crud from people who have no clue."

I would also quote my brother Rudyard, who wrote in part:

You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires, an' all:

We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational

Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face

The Widow's uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.

For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"

But it's "Saviour of 'is country" when the guns begin to shoot;

An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;

An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool--you bet that Tommy sees!

As ever was.

Chuck

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For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"

But it's "Saviour of 'is country" when the guns begin to shoot;

An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;

An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool--you bet that Tommy sees!

Amen.

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If my brothers and I seem to have a hair trigger on this respect issue ? perhaps it is because we?ve listened to 30 plus years of this crud from people who have no clue.

This thread is merely part of a forum where medals and decorations are discussed...so it's only natural that the criteria for said awards may be discussed.

Burkett's excellent work ''Stolen Valor'' notwithstanding, you have to ask why so many WWII and Korea vets called VN vets crybabies.

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This thread is merely part of a forum where medals and decorations are discussed...so it's only natural that the criteria for said awards may be discussed.

Burkett's excellent work ''Stolen Valor'' notwithstanding, you have to ask why so many WWII and Korea vets called VN vets crybabies.

I have tried to ignore your insufferable posts but no longer can.

Let?s see if this crybaby understands.

1 - You take umbrage with my post about people having strong critical opinions about matters outside their experience.

2 - You seem to have difficulty avoiding the phantom error even when called to your attention.

3 - The quoted post makes little to no logical sense other than the clear intent to insult the class of COMBAT veterans known as Vietnam Veterans and I will take that personally.

4 - You persist in these actions while hiding behind the anonymity of the Internet even when called out.

5 - You have decided that 25 hours of landing in hot LZs (that?s landing zones in case you weren?t there), taking fire from weapons ranging from small arms to heat seeking missiles is not worthy of recognition. The criteria for the award of the Air Medal were clear and established early in the Vietnam Conflict. I have seen no evidence of departure from those criteria during the conflict. Does not sound ?Out of Control? to me and I am a process control engineer.

My uncle, a World War II 1st Marine Division infantry veteran who made all the major assaults with the division and went ashore as part of the occupying force in Japan never called me a crybaby. In fact, he was very respectful and appreciative of my experiences in Vietnam.

You sir have insulted members of this forum and have demonstrated marginal (at best) fitness to be a participant.

Please defend yourself if you can. What gives you the right to refute what you have not experienced? What gives you the right to behave outside the strictures of this group by such ungentlemanly behavior?

You can start with service, rank and combat experience, thank you.

Wayne McSwiggan

Lieutenant Colonel, US Army, Retired

USMA Class of 1969

800+ hour 1st Cavalry Division combat cobra veteran ? see the book ?Battle of An Loc? to better understand the significance - I was there, were you?

Distinguished Flying Cross for Heroism in Vietnam

Bronze Star Medal for Meritorious Service in Vietnam

Two Air Medals for Heroism in Vietnam

Thirty-one Air Medals for Combat Assault missions in Vietnam

Yup ? must be a crybaby?

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I once attended a lecture at a local college about the Vietnam War. Someone left me a note, "F... you, Vietnam vet." No one, of course, would own up to the simple, anonymous and meaningless rant, only the most recent of so many by that date.

I've not been called a crybaby nor heard that word used regarding combatants. I have been called a babykiller, and more than once, each time by women who were safe in their assumption that I would not hurt them for their insult and blissfully ignorant that insults can bring non-proportionate responses. Others enjoy that protection as well but at the cost of respect.

Name calling and denigration of service aren't new or unique to Vietnam vets. In Chapter 47 of Alexander Solzhenitsyn's novel The First Circle you can find the following passages:

"Once she heard a young graduate student who was out to humiliate Shchagov ask him with a proud lift of her head, "What backwater are you from?" Shchagov had looked down on the student with a sort of lazy regret. Rocking quietly back and forth on his heels, he had answered, "You never had a chance to go there. From a province called the Front. A village called Foxhole."

And:

"The sufferings of Captain of Combat Engineers Shchagov could not be assuaged now, not in whole decades. He could think of people in only one way: either they were soldiers or they were not."

I was.

Captain of Artillery Troops Solzhenitsyn understood.

Chuck

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Gentlemen:

I have the highest respect for you both.

"Paris44(?)": Jeff Floyd, who was also there in your time and served as traffic control, has an interesting story about the Air Medal one night watching a transport going back and forth.

My neighbor, Angus McCauley, who was also in the 1st AC in your time, came home with over 40 Air medals. He got a Bronze Star with a V on it too and stories that turn my hair white.

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Thanks!

Not familiar with Jeff's story ? some pretty strange things did occur!

Would like to hear more about neighbor McCauly.

What unit, time frame, missions, specialty and all. Such stories need telling.

West Point in fact is sponsoring an oral history project to capture such information before it is forever gone. We?ve lost the chance for the Great War and WWII is fast slipping away. Good thing Chuck & I are so youthful?

Gentlemen:

I have the highest respect for you both.

"Paris44(?)": Jeff Floyd, who was also there in your time and served as traffic control, has an interesting story about the Air Medal one night watching a transport going back and forth.

My neighbor, Angus McCauley, who was also in the 1st AC in your time, came home with over 40 Air medals. He got a Bronze Star with a V on it too and stories that turn my hair white.

Edited by W McSwiggan

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Ulsterman's reference is to an event in early 1972 (probably just prior to the Easter Offensive).

I was working a night shift on the radar scope at the 619th Tactical Control Squadron (my call sign was Paris 33), at Tan Son Nhut. A helicopter checked in on our frequency formally and about 2 minutes later checked out. Then about 5 minutes later, he repeated that process. Another few minutes passed and he was back to repeat this process again. On a night shift, with little happening, a controller was happy to talk to almost anyone, so I asked him what he was doing. His response was that he was "filling out Air Medals".

He had been tasked to load up short-timers who were just below the required missions for their Air Medal and get them those missions. So he was taking off from one side of Hotel 3 (the helipad at Tan Son Nhut) and flying to the other side, where he landed. By checking in and out with a control center, he had completed a sortie. Everybody on board got their numbers for an Air Medal, I got credit for a few sorties controlled (among the 10,100 I handled that year), and all was well with the world.

From one perspective, it was gaming the system, but it was also a case where a commander understood how things worked and took a few steps to see that his troops got a ribbon to wear home.

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Thanks for sharing Jeff.

Ouch!

Very conflicted on that one.

The medals would help the junior enlisted men by assigning extra promotion board points. Medals themselves are nice too. My appreciation is for non-aviation MOS folk, the missions needed to be CA.

Also, with a requirement for 5 (I think) CAs for the award and your account of 3 or more ?sorties? (60 plus percent of the requirement), this activity was over the top in my estimation.

I wonder if he was swapping out passengers between circuits.

Like you, I can appreciate the commander?s motive but? that also serves to demote the decoration further to the detriment of those who earned it legitimately.

Then there?s the matter of falsification of government documents ? those circuits were clearly not CA!

Oh well, I?m sure stranger things have happened but I am pleased to report that my arrival in country was at the same time and I stayed beyond the end of exercise without witnessing such behavior.

This leads me to conclude (hopefully) that this was an isolated incident.

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Hi All, I did find this Associated Press article from 2008:

Fort Wolter- Armit Tilgner

By Denise LaVoie - The Associated Press

Posted : Sunday Oct 19, 2008 9:27:40 EDT

BOSTON — Helen Tilgner remembers seeing a scar on her father’s left knee when she was 7, and finding out he had won a Purple Heart for being shot during combat in Vietnam.

But she had no idea that her father had won more than 100 medals and awards until this year — 26 years after he died when his helicopter crashed in Malaysia while he was flying for a private medical rescue company.

On Saturday, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., will present Tilgner and her two sons — both in the Army — with the awards won by her father, Chief Warrant Officer Armit Tilgner, more than three decades after he flew helicopter missions in Vietnam.

“I feel like it is recognition that he should have had long ago, to be remembered with honor, and it’s a legacy I get to pass down to my sons so they are better aware of who he really was,” said Tilgner.

Armit Tilgner was an instructor pilot with the 1st Aviation Brigade’s 128th Assault Helicopter Company. He served six tours in Vietnam, winning numerous awards, including four Bronze Stars, five Army Commendation Medals, three Meritorious Unit Commendation medals, two Valorous Unit Awards, and 136 Air Medal awards.

But he never talked about his military honors, so his family only knew about the Purple Heart.

Tilgner retired in 1973 after 20 years in the Army and went to work for a private medical rescue helicopter company, transporting sick people from remote villages in Malaysia to hospitals. In 1982, he was killed at age 48 when his helicopter crashed in a thunderstorm.

Helen Tilgner, who was 23 at the time, remembers getting a telegram that his body had been found, but she never knew where he was buried. About five years ago, she began searching for information, and contacted Kerry, himself a decorated Vietnam War veteran. He was able to find someone who located her father’s remains and sent photos of his grave in Sarawak, Malaysia.

After that, Tilgner discovered her father’s discharge papers in her mother’s house. On them, she saw a list of codes and asked an old Army buddy of her father’s to translate them for her. The codes all stood for medals her father had won.

“Once I got them decoded, I started flipping out,” she said.“I had no idea.”

She contacted Kerry again, this time to see if he could have her father’s medals replaced. No one in her family knew the location of her father’s original medals.

Kerry said he was stunned by the number of awards Tilgner received and touched by the story of the two grandsons who have followed in his footsteps.

Sgt. Jason Kendrick, 28, has done two tours in Iraq and is scheduled to deploy for his third next month. Spc. Jerrod Kendrick, 27, returned in May from a 13-month tour in Afghanistan.

Kerry will present Tilgner’s replacement medals to his daughter and grandsons at a ceremony Saturday at Town Hall in Norwood, where Helen Tilgner lives.

“He’s got two young grandsons who are serving their country and they deserve to know that we don’t forget these things,” Kerry said.“It underscores that this is meaningful. It’s a way of a country saying thank you.”

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How... ironic.

The still-junior Senator from Massachusetts usually only presents medals to himself. Generally he throws other people's away.

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