[Congressional Bills 117th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
[S. 2738 Introduced in Senate (IS)]


  1st Session
                                S. 2738

 To award a Congressional Gold Medal to the United States Army Dustoff 
    crews of the Vietnam War, collectively, in recognition of their 
       extraordinary heroism and life-saving actions in Vietnam.



                           September 14, 2021

 Mr. Cornyn (for himself, Ms. Warren, Mr. Markey, Mrs. Feinstein, Mr. 
 Cruz, Mr. Rubio, Mr. Padilla, and Mr. Casey) introduced the following 
 bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, 
                       Housing, and Urban Affairs


                                 A BILL

 To award a Congressional Gold Medal to the United States Army Dustoff 
    crews of the Vietnam War, collectively, in recognition of their 
       extraordinary heroism and life-saving actions in Vietnam.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,


    This Act may be cited as the ``Dustoff Crews of the Vietnam War 
Congressional Gold Medal Act''.


    The Congress finds that--
            (1) a United States Army Dustoff crewman (pilot, crew 
        chief, and medic) is a helicopter crew member who served 
        honorably during the Vietnam War aboard helicopter air 
        ambulances, which were both non-division and division assets 
        under the radio call signs ``Dustoff'' and ``Medevac'';
            (2) Dustoff crews performed aeromedical evacuation for 
        United States, Vietnamese, and allied forces in Southeast Asia 
        from May 1962 through March 1973;
            (3) nearing the end of World War II, the United States Army 
        began using helicopters for medical evacuation and years later, 
        during the Korean War, these helicopter air ambulances were 
        responsible for transporting 17,700 United States casualties;
            (4) during the Vietnam War, with the use of helicopter air 
        ambulances, United States Army Dustoff crews pioneered the 
        concept of dedicated and rapid medical evacuation and 
        transported almost 900,000 United States, South Vietnamese, and 
        other allied sick and wounded, as well as wounded enemy forces;
            (5) helicopters proved to be a revolutionary tool to assist 
        those injured on the battlefield;
            (6) highly skilled and intrepid, Dustoff crews were able to 
        operate the helicopters and land them on almost any terrain in 
        nearly any weather to pick up wounded, after which the Dustoff 
        crews could provide care to these patients while transporting 
        them to ready medical facilities;
            (7) the vital work of the Dustoff crews required consistent 
        combat exposure and often proved to be the difference between 
        life and death for wounded personnel;
            (8) the revolutionary concept of a dedicated combat life-
        saving system was cultivated and refined by United States Army 
        Dustoff crews during 11 years of intense conflict in and above 
        the jungles of Southeast Asia;
            (9) innovative and resourceful Dustoff crews in Vietnam 
        were responsible for taking the new concept of helicopter 
        medical evacuation, born just a few years earlier, and 
        revolutionizing it to meet and surpass the previously 
        unattainable goal of delivering a battlefield casualty to an 
        operating table within the vaunted ``golden hour'';
            (10) some Dustoff units in Vietnam operated so efficiently 
        that they were able to deliver a patient to a waiting medical 
        facility on an average of 50 minutes from the receipt of the 
        mission, which saved the lives of countless personnel in 
        Vietnam, and this legacy continues for modern-day Dustoff 
            (11) the inherent danger of being a member of a Dustoff 
        crew in Vietnam meant that there was a 1 in 3 chance of being 
        wounded or killed;
            (12) many battles during the Vietnam War raged at night, 
        and members of the Dustoff crews often found themselves 
        searching for a landing zone in complete darkness, in bad 
        weather, over mountainous terrain, and all while being the 
        target of intense enemy fire as they attempted to rescue the 
        wounded, which caused Dustoff crews to suffer a rate of 
        aircraft loss that was more than 3 times that of all other 
        types of combat helicopter missions in Vietnam;
            (13) the 54th Medical Detachment typified the constant 
        heroism displayed by Dustoff crews in Vietnam, over the span of 
        a 10-month tour, with only 3 flyable helicopters and 40 
        soldiers in the unit, evacuating 21,435 patients in 8,644 
        missions while being airborne for 4,832 hours;
            (14) collectively, the members of the 54th Medical 
        Detachment earned 78 awards for valor, including 1 Medal of 
        Honor, 1 Distinguished Service Cross, 14 Silver Star Medals, 26 
        Distinguished Flying Crosses, 2 Bronze Star Medals for valor, 4 
        Air Medals for valor, 4 Soldier's Medals, and 26 Purple Heart 
            (15) the 54th Medical Detachment displayed heroism on a 
        daily basis and set the standard for all Dustoff crews in 
            (16) 6 members of the 54th Medical Detachment are in the 
        Dustoff Hall of Fame, 3 are in the Army Aviation Hall of Fame, 
        and 1 is the only United States Army aviator in the National 
        Aviation Hall of Fame;
            (17) Dustoff crew members are among the most highly 
        decorated soldiers in American military history;
            (18) in early 1964, Major Charles L. Kelly was the 
        Commanding Officer of the 57th Medical Detachment (Helicopter 
        Ambulance), Provisional, in Soc Trang, South Vietnam;
            (19) Major Kelly helped to forge the Dustoff call sign into 
        history as one of the most welcomed phrases to be heard over 
        the radio by wounded soldiers in perilous and dire situations;
            (20) in 1964, Major Kelly was killed in action as he 
        gallantly maneuvered his aircraft to save a wounded American 
        soldier and several Vietnamese soldiers and boldly replied, 
        after being warned to stay away from the landing zone due to 
        the ferocity of enemy fire, ``When I have your wounded.'';
            (21) General William Westmoreland, Commander, Military 
        Assistance Command, Vietnam (1964-1968), singled out Major 
        Kelly as an example of ``the greatness of the human spirit'' 
        and highlighted his famous reply as an inspiration to all in 
            (22) General Creighton Abrams, Westmoreland's successor 
        (1968-1972), and former Chief of Staff of the United States 
        Army, highlighted the heroism of Dustoff crews, ``A special 
        word about the Dustoffs . . . Courage above and beyond the call 
        of duty was sort of routine to them. It was a daily thing, part 
        of the way they lived. That's the great part, and it meant so 
        much to every last man who served there. Whether he ever got 
        hurt or not, he knew Dustoff was there.'';
            (23) Dustoff crews possessed unique skills and traits that 
        made them highly successful in aeromedical evacuation in 
        Vietnam, including indomitable courage, extraordinary aviation 
        skill and sound judgment under fire, high-level medical 
        expertise, and an unequaled dedication to the preservation of 
        human life;
            (24) members of the United States Armed Forces on the 
        ground in Vietnam had their confidence and battlefield prowess 
        reinforced knowing that there were heroic Dustoff crews just a 
        few minutes from the fight, which was instrumental to their 
        well-being, willingness to fight, and morale;
            (25) military families in the United States knew that their 
        loved ones would receive the quickest and best possible care in 
        the event of a war-time injury, thanks to the Dustoff crews;
            (26) the willingness of Dustoff crews to also risk their 
        lives to save helpless civilians left an immeasurably positive 
        impression on the people of Vietnam and exemplified the finest 
        American ideals of compassion and humanity; and
            (27) Dustoff crews from the Vietnam War hailed from every 
        State in the United States and represented numerous ethnic, 
        religious, and cultural backgrounds.


    (a) Presentation Authorized.--The Speaker of the House of 
Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate shall make 
appropriate arrangements for the presentation, on behalf of Congress, 
of a single gold medal of appropriate design in honor of the Dustoff 
crews of the Vietnam War, collectively, in recognition of their heroic 
military service, which saved countless lives and contributed directly 
to the defense of our country.
    (b) Design and Striking.--For the purposes of the award referred to 
in subsection (a), the Secretary of the Treasury shall strike the gold 
medal with suitable emblems, devices, and inscriptions, to be 
determined by the Secretary, in consultation with the Secretary of 
    (c) Smithsonian Institution.--
            (1) In general.--Following the award of the gold medal in 
        honor of the Dustoff Crews of the Vietnam War, the gold medal 
        shall be given to the Smithsonian Institution, where it will be 
        available for display as appropriate and available for 
            (2) Sense of congress.--It is the sense of Congress that 
        the Smithsonian Institution should also make the gold medal 
        awarded pursuant to this Act available for display elsewhere, 
        particularly at appropriate locations associated with the 
        Vietnam War, and that preference should be given to locations 
        affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution.


    The Secretary may strike and sell duplicates in bronze of the gold 
medal struck pursuant to section 3 at a price sufficient to cover the 
cost thereof, including labor, materials, dies, use of machinery, and 
overhead expenses.


    (a) National Medal.--The medal struck pursuant to this Act is a 
national medal for purposes of chapter 51 of title 31, United States 
    (b) Numismatic Items.--For purposes of chapter 51 of title 31, 
United States Code, all medals struck under this Act shall be 
considered to be numismatic items.


    (a) Authority To Use Fund Amounts.--There is authorized to be 
charged against the United States Mint Public Enterprise Fund such 
amounts as may be necessary to pay for the costs of the medals struck 
under this Act.
    (b) Proceeds of Sale.--Amounts received from the sale of duplicate 
bronze medals authorized under section 4 shall be deposited into the 
United States Mint Public Enterprise Fund.