Sergeant Gary McKiddy
Was a helicopter crew chief and door gunner on an OH-6A light observation helicopter. He was assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division of the US Army during the Vietnam War. Volunteering for the Army when he was just 19 years of age and specifically requested that he join his country's soldiers in Vietnam.
Gary quickly earned the deepest respect of his fellow crewmen for the patriotism that he showed as he went into battle and the courage with which he fought. Winning his first medal on his first mission, and he continued to serve in this courageous and honorable way until his death.
Gary's most courageous act came in Cambodia on May 6, 1970, when his helicopter came under intense enemy fire, receiving several damaging hits that ultimately caused the helicopter to crash. Gary was either thrown or jumped free of the crash upon impact with the ground, but he immediately returned to rescue a co-pilot, Specialist Four James R. Skaggs, taking him to safety and saving his life. Despite intense heat and flames and tremendous risk to his life, Gary then returned to the helicopter a second time and attempted to save the pilot Warrant Officer 1 Tommy Leon Whiddon. Tragically, the helicopter's fuel tank then exploded and both Tommy Leon Whiddon and Gary were killed. When the rescue team arrived, Gary was found stretched across the seat that he had just removed Skaggs from, laying across Whiddon with one arm behind him. The transmission had fallen across Gary's back pinning him in. The military tells us that this happened after the explosion and he was already dead when this occurred.
Sergeant Gary McKiddy was posthumously awarded the Silver Star, the Bronze Star Medal, the Air Medal, the Purple Heart, and the Good Conduct Medal for his actions that fateful day. Gary had flown more than 650 combat missions and was awarded 37 medals during his 6 months in Vietnam. There is no doubt that his bravery and self-sacrifice earned him this recognition; yet he was denied the Medal of Honor.
Prior to his death he was awarded the Air Medal, the Army Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster for heroism, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, the Aircraft Crewman Badge, and the Marksman Badge for his many heroic actions.
In August of 1999, the First Air Cavalry Division dedicated a barracks at Fort Hood, Texas, in honor of Gary Lee McKiddy. Inside of the 400 person building there is a day room that displays pictures of Gary from the time he was a baby until soon before his death, as well as a trophy case with all of Gary's medals in it. A beautiful plaque on the outside of the building tells the story of his heroism.
July 8th, 2022 - Dedication of the Sgt Gary Lee McKiddy Memorial Highway. SR 725 from the bridge to Union road in Miamisburg Ohio.