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Tribute To SP5 Martin Fitzgerald of the 240TH Attack Helicopter Squadron Vietnam


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I wanted to honor a good friend of mine today. Martin Fitzgerald was 19 years old when he decided to serve his country overseas. Martin served as a Mechanic and Door Gunner in the 240TH Attack Helicopter Squadron in Bear Cat, Vietnam. As a Door Gunner, he served on many special missions along the Cambodian border. The average life expectancy for a Door Gunner in Vietnam was 19 seconds. Martin was shot down multiple times and received many prestigious metals for his heroic actions in Vietnam. On one mission, he was tasked with replacing the engine of a helicopter that had just been shot down by the Viet Cong. While the enemy still surrounding the area, Martin was sent down alone to replace the helicopter's engine. Martin replaced the whole engine in under an hour, which would be considered impossible to most. For his actions on this day he received the Bronze Star. Martin told me the helicopter had been shot down when an armour piercing round hit the fuel control unit of the helicopter. Martin kept the bullet for fifty years until giving it to me. That bullet will always be the most amazing artifact in my collection. Martin gifted me most of the items from his service in Vietnam. These items include his tour jacket, name tag and patches that he wore on his flight suit, his headband, dogtag and wallet, items from a Buddist temple, a vietnamese sword, and the bullet. Martin talked with me for hours on the phone, sharing his service history and stories with me. We frequently emailed each other on a weekly basis sharing interesting things with each other. Martin passed away due to cancer from Agent Orange on October 29th, two weeks ago. While I am deeply saddened by his loss, I get the honor of making sure his service to our country is not forgotten. Martin was one of the best men I ever knew, and he will always be one of my best friends.

 

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A very nice tribute to your friend, R.I.P. Soldier.

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"I have only two men out of my company and 20 out of some other company. We need support, but it is almost suicide to try to get it here as we are swept by machine gun fire and constant barrage is on us. I have no one on my left and only a few on my right. I will hold." (Message sent by 1st Lt. Clifton B. Cates. USMC, 96th Co., Soissons, 19 July 1918 - later 19th Commandant of the Marine Corps 1948-1952)

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