Medal of Honor recipient Gary Beikirch dies at 74

Vietnam veteran and Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. Gary Beikirch, who ran multiple times into the line of fire to administer first aid to wounded troops, died Sunday in Rochester, New York.

He was 74.

Beikirch was a medical aidman with the U.S. Army, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for valorous action while serving with Detachment B-24, Company B, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces, on April 1, 1970. The group was stationed at Camp Dak Seang in Vietnam’s Kontum Province when the enemy attacked along the Laotion border.

“During the intense firefight that ensued, Beikirch repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire and mortars to treat the injured and dying and carry them back to shelter, ignoring his own wounds,” a press release stated.

According to his citation, Beikirch ran multiple times into the line of fire to retrieve the bodies of fallen comrades. Despite being wounded by mortar shell fragments, he searched and cared for other casualties until he became incapacitated.

“Pairs of Montagnard troops helped him reach the wounded when it became too difficult to move under his own command,” the release noted. “He continued aiding others until he collapsed and was immediately medevacked from the area.”

After being discharged in 1971, Beikirch went on to pursue higher education, becoming a veterans’ counselor and a middle school guidance counselor, the release said.

President Richard M. Nixon awarded Beikirch with the Medal of Honor on Oct. 15, 1973.

Sarah Sicard is a Senior Editor with Military Times. She previously served as the Digital Editor of Military Times and the Army Times Editor. Other work can be found at National Defense Magazine, Task & Purpose, and Defense News.

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