On this day in 1968, SPC5 John Kedenburg’s actions would result in his being awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor (posthumously) while on a mission in Laos.

Kedenburg was assigned to Military Assistance Command Vietnam, Studies and Observations Group (MACV-SOG known only just as SOG) as the Team Leader (1-0 one zero) of Recon Team Nevada. He’d be the team leader for more than six months, taking over for TL Dan Wagner who was killed in action in Laos in December 1967.

Operating out of FOB2 (Forward Operating Base) in Kontum, FOB2 was one of six bases that SOG operated out of in their secret war against North Vietnam.

The team’s mission was to conduct counterguerrilla operations deep inside enemy held territory in Laos. Not long after initial infiltration into a particularly hot area, the team was attacked and encircled by a battalion-size North Vietnamese Army force. Kedenburg immediately called for a Spare 39 (immediate extraction). The Covey aircraft (Forward Air Controller in OV-10 Bronco) directed Kedenburg’s team to a couple of bomb craters on a finger about 600 – 900 meters in elevation.

SP5 Kedenburg led the team, which succeeded, after a fierce firefight, in breaking out of the encirclement. As the team moved through thick jungle to a position at the bomb craters from which it could be extracted by helicopter, the team lost one man, a South Vietnamese team member who was thought killed. Kedenburg laid down heavy fire against the pursuing NVA troops and called for tactical air support. Amazingly, after being able to break contact from a sizable NVA force, outnumbering the Recon Team by better than 50-1, the team reached the craters and the landing zone (LZ) intact.

Once in the crater at the landing zone, Kedenburg deployed the team into a perimeter defense against the numerically superior enemy force. He directed airstrikes from Tactical Air Support, keeping the NVA at bay long enough for the extraction choppers to being airlifting out the team. The helicopters would hover over the area and drop ropes where the Recon Team would attach slings to be lifted out. The first half of the team was extracted by helicopter in this fashion.

Kedenburg and the remaining three South Vietnamese members of the team harnessed themselves to the sling on a second hovering helicopter. Just as the helicopter was about to lift them out of the area, the South Vietnamese team member who had been unaccounted for and presumed dead after the initial encounter with the NVA, appeared at the landing zone.