John Foster SBS-2 History


James Rad Nelson - Special Boat Squadron - 2


The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to James Rad Nelson (570611), Lieutenant, U.S. Navy, for extraordinary heroism on 18 August 1968 while engaged in riverine assault operations against communist aggressor forces in the Republic of Vietnam. As Commander River Assault Division 112, Task Force 117 (TF-117), consisting of twelve river assault craft, Lieutenant Nelson conducted operations along the Hai Muoi Tarn Canal in Dinh Tuong Province. Shortly after noon, the assault boat column was attacked by what was later estimated to be a Viet Cong battalion. Lieutenant Nelson's command Monitor received two damaging rocket hits, at the outset, that sprayed him in the face with shrapnel and blinded him in his right eye. Ignoring the excruciating pain and the resultant loss of vision, he steadfastly remained at his station and continuously exposed himself to enemy fire by standing upright at his position on top of the boat, to gain the best possible view of enemy positions, in order to direct his assault boats in returning fire. Additionally, Lieutenant Nelson assumed complete control of his boat, shouting instructions to the coxswain while, at the same time, firing on the enemy positions himself with a grenade launcher. He then directed his units to lay down a steady barrage of fire which succeeded in suppressing the enemy's fire sufficiently to permit helicopter evacuation for the many casualties and the safe back-loading of the remainder of the troops. Later that afternoon, Lieutenant Nelson was involved in a second intense ambush during which he again valiantly exposed himself to heavy enemy fire. As the infantry succeeded in securing this area, he maneuvered his craft into defensive positions and supervised evacuation of the wounded. Only after all wounded personnel had been evacuated and a relief officer was provided did Lieutenant Nelson submit to evacuation for badly-needed medical treatment. His superb leadership, courage under fire, and selfless devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
Authority: Navy Department Board of Decorations and Medals


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