Military Order of the Purple Heart

Texas Capital Chapter 1919 Austin, Texas

 

VICTOR D. MASSAGLIA

 

VICTOR D. MASSAGLIA

Patriot, Chapter 1919

 (ARMY, Vietnam) Article March 1998

In 1967, this new Second Lieutenant, fresh out of OCS, took over command of an Infantry Company the hard way, when his Captain was killed in action.  In 1972, as a helicopter pilot on his second tour of duty in Vietnam, Captain Massaglia's daring rescue of five soldiers at DAK TO was later written up in SAGA Magazine.  This is his story. 

Victor D. Massaglia was born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1940. He graduated in the Spring of 1957 from St. Leo's High School on the city's west side. He then worked for several years in Rochester, Minnesota before volunteering for the Draft in 1965.  After Basic Training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and Medical Advanced Individual Training (AIT), at Fort Sam Houston, Texas; Vic was selected for Officer Candidate School.  He went off to Fort Benning, Georgia, where he was commissioned Second Lieutenant, Infantry in May 1966. He arrived in Vietnam in November 1966 and was assigned to Company A, 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry (Mechanized).   This was initially a 4th Infantry Division unit that was later assigned to 25th Infantry Division.

Vic received the Purple Heart a few months later, after his Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) hit a 500 pound bomb that the Viet Cong had rigged as a mine. The APC was destroyed with three men killed and the remaining eight, including Lieutenant Massaglia, wounded.  Medevac’d  on a Dustoff helicopter, Vic returned to Company A following his hospitalization for fragmentation wounds and burns to both legs.  After his return to duty, he would be awarded the Silver Star for a later combat action in March 1967 before returning home from his first tour in-country (see excerpt of citation). 

 

CITATION  

The Silver Star

Date of action: 19 March 1967

 

SECOND LIEUTENANT MASSAGLIA….ON 19 MARCH 1967…WHILE SERVING AS PLATOON LEADER IN COMPANY A, 2ND BN, 22ND INF…THE COMPANY CAME IN HEAVY CONTACT WITH A LARGE VIET CONG FORCE…THE COMPANY COMMANDER AND A PLATOON LEADER WERE KILLED.  LIEUTENANT MASSAGLIA IMMEDIATELY TOOK COMMAND OF THE COMPANY, REGROUPING THE MEN…ON TWO SEPARATE OCCASIONS HE TOOK OVER THE MACHINEGUNS OF TWO OF HIS WOUNDED MEN, MAINTAINING A HEAVY VOLUME OF FIRE…UNTIL OTHER SOLDIERS TOOK OVER THE WEAPONS.  AS THE BATTLE CONTINUED, LIEUTENANT MASSAGLIA NOTICED THAT ONE OF HIS PLATOONS, ATTEMPTING TO FLANK THE VIET CONG POSITION…WAS PINNED DOWN BY INTENSE ENEMY FIRE…WITH COMPLETE DISREGARD FOR HIS OWN PERSONAL SAFETY, HE LED A SQUAD TO A POSITION…WHERE THEIR DEVASTATING FIRE FORCED THE HOSTILE TROOPS TO WITHDRAW…HIS UNIT STAGED A COUNTERATTACK, RESULTING IN THE ROUTING OF THE VIET CONG FORCE…

 

 

He would spend the next four years in the United States during which time he went through training as an Army Aviator and then served an assignment at Fort Hood, Texas where he was promoted to Captain.   In 1972 Victor Massaglia returned to Vietnam as a helicopter pilot in B Troop, 7th Squadron, 17th Air Cavalry.  This was late in the period of withdrawal of U.S. troops during the “draw-down.”  Victor received two awards of the Distinguished Flying Cross for flying rescue missions under fire. An account of his daring pick-up of five Americans, overrun near DAK TO, on May 6, 1972, later appeared in SAGA Magazine(also see excerpt of Citation). With the rapid pace of troop withdrawal continuing, Captain Massaglia was transferred, Inter-theatre, to Europe prior to completing his second tour.

 

CITATION  

The Distinguished Flying Cross

Date of action: 6 May 1972

 

WHILE PARTICIPATING IN AERIAL FLIGHT…CAPTAIN MASSAGLIA…WHILE SERVING AS AIRCRAFT COMMANDER…DURING AN AIR CAVALRY (MISSION) RESCUE(D) …FIVE AMERICAN SOLDIERS WHO WERE MISSING FOR TWELVE DAYS NEAR DAK TO… (IN AN) AREA OVERRUN BY NUMEROUS ENEMY TANKS AND INFANTRY…(WITH) THE SITUATION ON THE GROUND EXTREMELY VOLATILE…MANUVERED HIS SHIP ACROSS THE TOPS OF THE ENEMY INFESTED FOREST…ALTHOUGH THE TOUCHDOWN POINT WAS OVERGROWN WITH LARGE BRUSH AND SMALL TREES, HE MANAGED TO GET HIS AIRCRAFT INTO THE SMALL INTRICATE AREA…LOAD THE WOUNDED AMERICANS…AND HASTILY DEPART THE PICK-UP ZONE…FOR PLEIKU WHERE EMERGENCY MEDICAL TREATMENT WAS GIVEN…CAPTAIN MASSAGLIA’S COURAGEOUS ACTIONS…FLYING ABILITY AND DEVOTION TO DUTY WERE IN KEEPING WITH THE HIGHEST TRADITIONS OF THE MILITARY SERVICE…

 

 

 

Victor Massaglia was discharged after 6-month's service in Germany. He immediately enrolled at the University of Tampa (Florida).  Benefiting from the G.I. Bill, he graduated with a degree in Business Management in 1975.  He continued his education with advanced technical courses in Electronics, and in 1977 took employment in Austin, Texas where he currently lives.

 

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