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Home : News : News Features
NEWS | May 23, 2024

Oregon National Guard Honors Decorated Vietnam Veteran

By John Hughel, Oregon National Guard Public Affairs Office

CLACKAMAS, Ore. – A memorial service with full military honors was held at Willamette National Cemetery May 17 for retired U.S. Army Maj. Charles Larry Deibert, who received The Distinguished Service Cross for combat operations in Vietnam. Deibert served in the Oregon Army National Guard for 15 years and in the Army Reserves for five years.

Enlisting in the Marine Corps in 1956, he joined the Oregon National Guard two years later. He attended Officer Candidate School, flight school, jump school and jungle survival school before volunteering for service in Vietnam in 1966. Assigned as a platoon leader to the 220th Reconnaissance Airplane Company, he flew over 570 missions in the Cessna O-1 Bird Dog, saving hundreds of U.S. troops and making him one of the most decorated Oregon military aviators.

“To me, as a fellow Vietnam veteran, Larry was representative of the vast majority of Vietnam veterans,” said retired Maj. Gen. Raymond F. Rees, the former adjutant general of the Oregon National Guard. “That tens of thousands of those veterans served their nation and returned to become productive members of society and leaders in their community.”

Rees said Deibert was successful in business and as an entrepreneur “and was a caring and loving husband, father and patriarch. In all those roles he exhibited the same rock solid characteristics — (he was) creative, kind and adventurous.”

Rees said The Distinguished Service Cross was second only to The Medal of Honor for courage, gallantry and extraordinary heroism.

Rees said O-1 Bird Dog aviators “flew just a few hundred feet above the jungles of Vietnam. Flying virtually alone, vulnerable to every weapon and seeking out the enemy and calling in badly needed air and artillery support.”

The official Distinguished Service Cross citation said that on Sept. 10, 1967, in the Republic of Vietnam, Deibert “distinguished himself with extraordinary heroism with operations against an armed hostile force with exceptional gallant actions” as he supported a Marine battalion battling an estimated two-regiment North Vietnamese Army force.

“Facing extreme dangers of being shot down by friendly artillery barrages and hostile anti-aircraft fire, (then) Captain Deibert flew into the area, making several low passes through a curtain of continuous fire, helping locate enemy troop concentrations.”

After advising the Marines of the enemy situation, Deibert called for tactical air support and continued making low-level flights over the enemy.

Deibert’s other military awards included The Distinguished Flying Cross (two awards), The Bronze Star, The Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal, The Army Commendation Medal, Presidential Unit Citation, Army Parachute Badge, and Army Senior Aviation Badge.

Deibert served as the National Commander of the Legion of Valor from 2001-2002. After retiring from the military, he was the civilian aide to the U.S. Secretary of the Army from 2003 to 2017. On Aug. 28, 2010, the Charles L. Deibert Operations Facility adjacent to McNary Field in Salem, Oregon, was dedicated in his honor. The facility became the Headquarters for the Oregon Army National Guard’s 2-641st Aviation Battalion and 102nd Civil Support Team.