During the Vietnam War, a soldier wounded on the battlefield had a better chance of survival than if he had been injured as a civilian in a car crash back home in the states. This remarkable statistic is due to the courage and dedication of the pilots and crews of the aeromedical helicopter evacuation unit, radio call sign “Dust Off”. A four man crew of a pilot, copilot, medic and crew chief would fly helicopters into the thick of jungle and battle to load and evacuate patients often while under enemy fire. The personal sacrifice of these brave crews was high; the loss of aircraft was 3.3 times that of other helicopter missions and about one third of all air ambulance crew members themselves became casualties. In a cadre of brave and remarkable men who achieved the extraordinary on a daily basis, one man exceeded even this elite groups standards of dedication and courage; he is Major Patrick Brady. Patrick Brady was born in South Dakota on October 1, 1936. His parents had separated resulting in a turbulent childhood where he and his brother were constantly being moved from relative to relative; Brady actually attended ten different schools in his first nine years of schooling. This changed when he moved to Seattle, Washington and began to attend the O’Dea School administered by the Irish Christian Brothers. The dedication and discipline of the Brothers provided young Patrick with strong adult role models; they instilled in young Patrick a strong sense of duty and a deep and enduring faith. Attending Seattle University, he enrolled in ROTC and was commissioned a second lieutenant upon graduation. After an initial assignment to Germany during the Berlin Crisis, Kelly enrolled in the Army Aviation School for training as a helicopter pilot. Upon graduation, Brady volunteered for service in Vietnam in 1963. It was in Vietnam as an aviator with the 57th Medical Detachment that Brady met another great influence on his life; his commanding officer the legendary Major Charles Kelly. Kelly was than ardent proponent of the dedicated Air Ambulance concept and his commitment to evacuating wounded under fire had earned him the nickname of “Mad Man”. On July 1, 1964 Kelly was attempting to rescue wounded soldiers when he was warned to leave a landing zone as it was still under enemy fire. Kelly’s response was “When I have your wounded”. Tragically, but fittingly as it epitomized his life, these would be Kelly’s last words as moments later a bullet pierced Kelly’s heart. The next day an Officer who was critical of Kelly’s aggressive flying tactics approached Brady, who was now the 57’s commander, throwing the bullet that had killed Kelly on his desk and asked if now would the unit stop flying so aggressively. Picking up the bullet, Brady replied, “We are going to keep flying exactly the way Kelly taught us to fly, without hesitation, anytime, anywhere.” Brady would be true to his word and faithful to Kelly’s legacy. On January 6, 1968, Brady was on his second tour in Vietnam, a Major and commander of the 54th Medical Detachment. He was awakened to a report that two wounded soldiers were in serious condition, but that seven other previous attempts to evacuate them had failed because of a thick blanket of fog that enveloped the area and would persist throughout the day. Brady and his crew successfully navigated in obscured visibility to the men’s position and successfully evacuated the wounded men while under fire. On the flight back, Brady picked up radio chatter that another unit had been caught in a fire fight and had seventy wounded men. Two previous attempts to evacuate them had resulted in the responding helicopters being shot down; Brady and his crew immediately volunteered to try again. Brady was initially followed by four other helicopters, but they turned back because of the fog leaving Brady and his crew to continue alone. Instead of seeing the fog as a problem, Brady used it to his advantage, knowing it would make it difficult for enemy gunners to get a fix on him as he flew directly over them. Brady and his crew would make five trips in what was reported as zero visibility under enemy fire and evacuated all the wounded. Some speculated that Brady’s Helicopter has special navigation aids, but Brady stated that his special equipment was “two good eyes, two good reference points and God’s good will.” Yet, Brady’s days work was not through; he received a call for a third evacuation mission. Here the wounded could not make it to the designated landing zone. Despite his Helicopter being severely damaged by enemy fire, Brady found and set down at an improvised landing site closer to the wounded from where they could be loaded. Upon returning to base, he obtained a replacement aircraft and responded to a report of an American patrol that was pinned down in a minefield. Noting a from the air spot where a Helicopter had set down earlier and realizing it was likely safe, Brady landed in the minefield and his crew exited the helicopter. Despite a mine detonating near his aircraft wounding two crew members and tearing dozens of holes in his aircraft, Brady was able to evacuate a further 6 wounded soldiers. In all Major Patrick Brady using three helicopters evacuated over 100 wounded soldiers that day, His dedication to rescuing the wounded and his incomparable courage would earn him the Medal of Honor, joining such other Irish Americans as Dan Daly, “Wild Bill” Donovan and Audie Murphy. Modestly, Brady says the medal belongs to those he cared for and those who cared enough for him to write it down. Throughout that remarkable day, Brady claims he was never afraid; crediting the faith instilled in him years before by the Irish Christian Brothers and the belief that if he was killed there could have been no better way to die than in service to his fellow soldiers. In the bigger picture, the events of January 6, 1968 pale in comparison to Patrick Brady’s broader career in Vietnam where he made over 2,000 flights and evacuated over 5,000 wounded, a reminder of the remarkable valor and sacrifice that so many of our veteran perform. While these unsung every day acts of courage may not be officially recognized by awards, may we never forget them or our veterans.