Medal of Honor & Victoria Cross Recipient

Keith Payne - AATTV (VC Citation)

Warrant Officer II Keith Payne distinguished himself on 24 May 1969, while attached for duty with the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces, in Kontum Province, Republic of Vietnam. Warrant Officer II Payne, commanding the 212th Company, Mobile Strike Force Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group, came under attack by a superior North Vietnamese force. Warrant Officer II Payne temporarily held off the enemy’s assaults by firing his weapon and running from position to position throwing grenades at them. Despite his efforts, the friendly forces began withdrawing in the face of the onrushing enemy. Warrant Officer II Payne, wounded by rocket and mortar fire, single-handedly fought off the enemy. His fearlessness was an inspiration to his men, successfully stopping them from withdrawing in disarray After establishing a defensive perimeter, Warrant Officer II Payne then began searching for the wounded members of his company. Disregarding his own safety, Warrant Officer II Payne made four passes about the area still occupied by enemy soldiers, successfully rescuing three U.S. Special Forces advisers and 40 lost Montagnards, some of whom were seriously wounded. Returning to the established defensive perimeter, Warrant Officer II Payne found that his men had withdrawn even further. Undeterred, Warrant Officer II Payne continued to lead the rescued men through the darkness, finally reaching the battalion base and safety. Warrant Officer II Payne’s sustained and heroic efforts undoubtedly saved the lives of numerous indigenous soldiers and several fellow advisers and will always stand as an example of the true meaning of valor.