Lieutenant Colonel Bruce Crandall is a veteran of over 900 combat missions through multiple Vietnam tours of duty. Crandall received fixed-wing training at Gary AFB, Texas. Having earned his wings, he was assigned to the 30th Engineering Topo Group, flying the Hiller H-23 Raven in mapping operations on Alaska's Arctic Slope. In 1957, he returned to Gary AFB for helicopter training. Next, he went to the 521st Aviation Company in Tripoli, Libya, where he mapped the desert for 2 years. In 1960, he was responsible for flying over thousands of square miles of previously unmapped mountains and jungle of Central and South America. Crandall became the senior representative of the 229th Task Force in support of the XVIII Airborne Corps, Dominican Republic Expeditionary Force. In 1965, the United States entered the war in Vietnam, and Crandall served as Commander of A Company, 229th Aviation Regiment, 11th Air Assault Division at Ft. Benning, Georgia, and later designated the 1st Cavalry Division (airmobile). Upon deployment to Vietnam, using the call sign "Ancient Serpent 6" and later abbreviated to "Snake 6," he soon earned the reputation of being a straight talker, dead honest, and very good at what he did. On 14 November 1965, his helicopter company was supporting the 1/7th Cavalry's assault into LZ X-Ray in the Ia Drang Valley. Crandall took off on his first combat mission, hauling airmobile troops from a base in Vietnam's Central Highlands to a rugged jungle landing zone in the valley of the Ia Drang River. It was a day that he and many others will never forget. For the first time, Americans came up against a seasoned force of North Vietnamese regulars, in the first major ground battle for America in Southeast Asia, which was arguably the fiercest battle of the Vietnam War. During the operations at LZ X-Ray, he volunteered and flew medical evacuation missions when Med Evac pilots refused to proceed because of intense enemy fire in the pick-up zones. Crandall and his wingman, Captain, Ed W. Freeman flew a total of 22 missions into LZ X-Ray, 14 of which were voluntary ammunition, medical resupply and medical evacuation flights. Crandall's helicopters evacuated more than 75 casualties during a flight day consisting of 16 hours. In January 1966, during Operation MASHER, the first of many combined American and South Vietnamese army operations, Crandall flew one of his most harrowing missions. Under enemy fire and using only a flashlight as a guide, Crandall dropped his Bell UH-1 Huey through dense jungle to rescue 12 soldiers. Later that year he returned to the States and attended the US Army Command and General Staff College. He then returned immediately to Vietnam for a second combat tour, flying Huey gunships in the 1/9th Cavalry Squadron, 1st Cavalry Division. At the completion of his second tour, Crandall returned to the States and served in numerous positions. He was Deputy Chief of Staff, Deputy Installation Commander, and Commander of the 5th Engineer Combat Battalion, all at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri. Crandall retired in 1977 as a lieutenant colonel. For his courageous efforts in Southeast Asia, specifically operations at LZ X-Ray, Lieutenant Colonel Bruce Crandall received the Congressional Medal of Honor in 2007. He was the first recipient of the AVCO Helicopter Heroism Award.
In 1965, Lieutenant Colonel Bruce Crandall commanded A Company, 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion. He validated his doctrine for the employment of emerging helicopter capabilities during his support to the 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment in November 1965 in the Ia Drang Valley. In 2007, he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions by President George W. Bush.