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In Memory

Mike Moran

Joe Michael Moran: August 14, 1945April 4, 1968

Joe Michael Moran, Warrant Officer (WO-1), U.S. Army, was killed in action while flying an Army helicopter in the Republic of Vietnam. Mike was assigned to the 2nd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, U.S. Army, and his tour of duty began on December 15, 1967. His military awards and decorations include the Purple Heart, the Air Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Campaign Medal with one bronze battle star, and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.

Mike and his family had moved from Bryan to West Columbia, Texas, prior to his graduation from high school, and it was from there that he entered the Army.


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05/30/12 12:10 PM #1    

Dona Goodwin

"If you are able, save for them a place inside of you and one backward glance when you are leaving, for the places they can no longer go."

... from a poem written by Major Michael Davis O'Donnell


09/08/14 07:41 AM #2    

Ed McLain

Mike was my best friend when he died. After his family moved to West Columbia, Texas I visited them there several times and spent a week with them just before I was sent to Vietnam. When I got back, Mike was also in the Army and was in helecopter pilot training in Alabama. I visted him there and we spent a weekend in Florida. After he graduated from flight school, he was on immediate orders to Vietnam and I spend one more weekend with him in West Columbia before he left. We communicated by letter while he was there and he planned to apply for assignment to Fort Sam Houston, where I was stationed, when his tour there was over. When he was killed, his family requested the Army assign me the honor of escorting him home. That was the saddest thing I ever had to do in my military career, but I was glad to be with him that one last time. Mike was also awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, one of our nations highest awards for valor, but it does not show up in this list as it was awarded posthumously several months later. I know he was honord this way as I attended the ceremony in Houston where the National Guard unit presented the Moran family with the award and read the citation that Mike died in a mission he volunteered for, flying a replacement company commander into a battle where the previous commander had just been killed. He lived as my friend, he died as my hero. God bless you Mike. I think of you so often.

05/14/17 06:50 PM #3    

Dona Goodwin

This is a photo of LZ Stud, the staging area for Operation Pegasus and the landing zone from which Mike flew.  It was taken by the renowned photographer, Larry Burrows, on the day Mike and his crew and passengers were killed.  Mike was the pilot of UH-H1 Tail No. 66-16952 when it was downed by hostile fire while en route from LZ Stud to Khe Sanh.  This was during Operation Pegasus, an enormous effort to reach a 5,000-man Marine detachment that had been trapped by an overwhelming force of two NVA divisions.  
Mike volunteered on April 4, 1968 for the flight to carry the Battalion CO, LTC Robert Leslie Runkle, CPT Joseph Lyttle, who was to replace a severely wounded company commander, and CPT David Peters, an Artillery Forward Observer, to the current fighting at Khe Sanh.  Mike, the flight crew members, LTC Runkle, and CPT David Peters were all killed.  CPT Lyttle was paralyzed in the crash and later worked for many years as a supervisor in rehabilitation of other paralyzed persons at Warm Springs, GA..  The above photo is online, at the bottom of the Wikipedia page titled 1st Calvary Division.  Other photos of the LZ Stud area and the Khe Sanh Base were taken by Larry Burrows in April of 1968 and can be found online.
The other Crew Members were:  Co-pilot WO1 Ronald Gene Phears, SP5 Terry Lee Baxter, Crew Chief, and PFC Charlie Bernard Thomas, Gunner.
Mike was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.  Jim (Ed) McLain attended the ceremony for the presentation of the DFC and Purple Heart to Mike's mother.  He emailed a copy of the General Orders, now posted above.   This medal will be added to Mike's memorial page on the "virtual wall."    http://virtualwall.org/dm/MoranJM01a.htm



05/14/17 07:40 PM #4    

Dona Goodwin

05/15/17 12:33 PM #5    

Bert Mullins

When we we sophomores, Mike, Bob Mousner, and I were in the same home room and the three of us sat in the back row by the wall.  The teacher was Mrs. Waldrip, the new Spanish teacher, and we all were quite taken with her.  She was an attractive young woman but resigned mid-year when she became pregnant.  We were three disappointed boys when she resigned because home room was never again the same!  Those were really good, carefree times when none of us knew what life had in store for us.  

I was one of the Marines at Khe Sanh that Mike and the 1st Cav came to assist, but it was years later that I learned of his death there.  Khe Sanh was a very dangerous place to be in early 1968 and too many people died there.  LZ Stud, the operating base built by the Cav and a photo of which Dona posted, became a Marine base when the Cav withdrew and I flew in and out of there many times on combat operations, never knowing Mike had been there.  

All of us can remember him and honor him for the sacrifice he made and I hope those millions of Americans who never knew him will do the same.  

09/10/17 04:16 PM #6    

Dona Goodwin


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