The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the
SILVER STAR MEDAL to
CORPORAL BENJAMIN A. DRAKE UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS
For service as set forth in the following
CITATION “For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his own life while serving as Radio Operator with 1st Platoon, Company H, 2d Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division in action against North Vietnamese regular forces in Quang Nam Province, Republic of Viet Nam on 3 and 4 March, 1969. Corporal Drake voluntarily led a fireteam-sized reactionary force from his platoon patrol base with the mission of reinforcing and supporting another squad from his platoon which had been ambushed by an unknown size North Vietnamese regular army unit. The squad leader of the beleaguered squad had been killed by enemy fire and the squad had suffered extensive wounded during the late night of March 3rd / early morning hours of March 4th, 1969. When the understrength platoon received a radio report of the incident from the beleaguered squad, the platoon commander, with only one squad available at his patrol base, called for volunteers to go to the aid of the ambushed squad. Corporal Drake, the most experienced NCO with the platoon and the platoon radio operator, immediately volunteered to lead the mission to help his fellow Marines. Even though there was no radio available to support his small unit and knowing the terrain and normal modus operandi of the North Vietnamese forces for trying to use a small unit as bait to draw out a reactionary force and then ambushing that reactionary force, Corporal Drake led his small unit to the area of the squad's position. Enroute, his small unit came under intense enemy small arms and hand grenade fire. Leading by example and repeatedly exposing himself to enemy fire even though painfully wounded himself by hand grenade fragments, he fought his way through the enemy force to the beleaguered, which was huddled around the body of their fallen squad leader. He then organized them into defensive positions, used their radio to coordinate suppressive supporting fires and thereby enabled his small unit to repel the superior enemy force. Later that night, Corporal Drake was able to bring in a medical evacuation helicopter to remove the wounded. Refusing evacuation, even though painfully wounded himself, he continued the squad's mission and returned to his platoon patrol base at first light the next day. Among the numerous enemy bodies recovered the next day was the body of a North Vietnamese regular army senior officer. Through his extraordinary initiative, leadership, and inspiring valor in the face of superior enemy forces, Corporal Drake was personally responsible for undoubtedly saving the lives of the other members of the ambushed squad. Corporal Drake's extraordinary heroism, repeated acts of valor, and loyal devotion to duty reflected great credit upon himself and were keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service".
THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20550-1000
Ben Drake, SSgt Hotel 2/1, 68-69-70