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Vietnam Veterans Advocate Medal of Honor for Heroic Helicopter Pilot

Who Saved Their Lives 55 Years Ago.

Alan Ace Cozzalio was born in Ashland, Oregon in 1946. For most of his life, Ace, as his family called him, was raised on the Cozzalio family ranch nestled along the scenic Klamath River in Hornbrook, CA, just seven miles from the Oregon border. Ace was a cowboy, riding horses from an early age – a Western lifestyle he proudly lived his entire life.

Background:
On January 25, 1969, over ninety Soldiers of Charlie Company were engaged in a fierce battle
with a battalion of the North Vietnamese Army near the village of Phu My in the Mekong Delta
of South Vietnam. In the early moments of battle, Charlie Company’s commander and four other
Infantry Soldiers are dead – many others wounded. Pinned down for over two hours by a
fortified enemy machine gun bunker, the Soldiers cannot maneuver against their aggressors.
When the beleaguered Soldiers were running low on ammo, First Lieutenant Ace Cozzalio
arrived in a small scout helicopter to aggressively attack the bunker with machine guns blazing.
Then Cozzalio lands his helicopter on top of the bunker while his gunner tosses a hand grenade
in the bunker’s rear entrance. The brave Lieutenant pulls in power, and his helicopter lifts into
the air as a massive explosion destroys the bunker and its enemy combatants – the battle is over,
saving the lives of over ninety Infantry Soldiers.

October 29, 2021:
Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma submitted the recommendation to upgrade 1LT Ace Cozzalio’s
Distinguished Service Cross to the Medal of Honor (posthumous) to the U.S. Army for review
and approval. Senator Inhofe retired in January 2023, and the responsibility for the Cozzalio
Medal of Honor recommendation transferred to Senator Ted Cruz of Texas.

Today:
Eighteen Charlie Company survivors of the Battle of Phu My have signed a letter to Senator
Cruz stating they owe their lives to 1LT Ace Cozzalio and advocate his receiving the Medal of
Honor. Two Texas Gold Star family members whose brother was killed in the Battle of Phu My
have also submitted a letter to Senator Cruz in support of the highest honor for 1LT Cozzalio. All
share a heartfelt desire to see the Medal of Honor bestowed on 1LT Cozzalio in their lifetimes.

Charlie Company Reunion:
On June 7-8, 2024, Charlie Company, 5th of the 60th Infantry, will meet at the Renaissance St.
Louis Airport Hotel in St. Louis, MO, for their reunion. Here, the Battle of Phu My survivors
will pay tribute to the heroic helicopter pilot who saved their lives fifty-five years ago: 1LT Ace
Cozzalio. A reunion highlight is a one-hour presentation titled Ace Cozzalio and the Battle of Phu
My, which tells the story of Cozzalio’s heroic battle actions that justify an award upgrade to the
Medal of Honor.

Ace Cozzalio
California Connections

Biography
Alan Ace Cozzalio was born in Ashland, Oregon in 1946. For most of his life, Ace, as his family called him, was raised on the Cozzalio family ranch nestled along the scenic Klamath River in Hornbrook, CA, just seven miles from the Oregon border. Ace was a cowboy, riding horses from an early age – a Western lifestyle he proudly lived his entire life.
During Ace’s sophomore year in high school, his family moved to Sacramento, CA, where He attended Mira Loma High School. After graduation, Ace joined the U.S. Army. While in basic training, he was selected for Officer Candidate School and accepted into Army Flight School.
While serving in Vietnam, Ace had a distinguished service record as an Army helicopter pilot. He received every medal of valor except the Medal of Honor in his eighteen-month tour of duty. After Vietnam, Ace had an exceptional military career, achieving the rank of Lieutenant Colonel
and Commander of the 4th Aviation Training Battalion at Fort Rucker, AL. In 1986, Ace was
diagnosed with Epstein-Barr virus, a disease that attacks the heart muscles and was medically retired after serving twenty years in the Army.
Ace returned to the family ranch in Hornbrook and resumed his Cowboy lifestyle with his brother. For the next seven years, Ace was active around the ranch and joined his brother in team roping competitions. But his heart condition continued to decline until he could no longer function. In early 1993, Ace moved to Portland, OR, to await a heart transplant. Then, on April 27, 1993, Ace received a new heart, and the transplant went well. Tragically, Ace died the following day after suffering a heart attack; his new heart had failed.
Today, a large bronze plaque dedicated to Lieutenant Colonel Ace Cozzalio is the focal point of the Hot LZ Memorial Wall at the Living Memorial Sculpture Garden in Weed, CA. This impressive marble wall, inscribed with the names of northern California military veterans, sits amongst tall pine and fir trees, with majestic Mount Shasta towering in the background.
On October 29, 2021, Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma submitted the recommendation to upgrade 1LT Ace Cozzalio’s Distinguished Service Cross to the Medal of Honor (posthumous) to the U.S. Army for review and approval. Senator Inhofe retired in January 2023, and the responsibility for the Cozzalio Medal of Honor recommendation transferred to Senator Ted Cruz of Texas. California District 1 Representative Doug LaMalfa strongly supports the Medal of Honor for 1LT Cozzalio.

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