Wyden, Merkley Praise Passage of Bill Honoring Dustoff Crews from the Vietnam War

Legislation co-sponsored by Oregon senators means Oregon City veteran Gary Hagen, 72, will receive Congressional Gold Medal; Four Oregonians to earn this congressional honor posthumously

Gorge Country Media
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today welcomed the Senate passage of legislation they cosponsored to award a collective Congressional Gold Medal to U.S. Army Dustoff crews in recognition of their extraordinary heroism and life-saving actions during the Vietnam War.

Among the Oregonians now earning this well-deserved Congressional Gold Medal under the Dustoff Crews of the Vietnam War Congressional Gold Medal Act are former Dustoff Crew Chief Gary E. Hagen, 72, originally from Medford but now living in Oregon City. He served two tours in Vietnam between 1970-72 and previously earned the Silver Star for gallantry in action while risking his life multiple times to evacuate 21 patients under fire.

Oregonians earning this honor posthumously after losing their lives during service in Vietnam on Dustoff crews are Army Chief Warrant Officer Rodney Keith Arnold, 22, of Milwaukie; Army Chief Warrant Officer Joseph Gordon Brown, 25, of Portland; Army Chief Warrant Officer Terence Arnold Handley, 20, of Portland; and Army Specialist John William Murphy, 20, of Pendleton.

“I’m always honored to advocate for the Oregonians serving our country and who have served our country,” Wyden said. “This bill provides these Dustoff heroes from our state and the entire country the recognition they have long deserved. I’m so glad for Gary Hagen and am gratified that the sacrifices of Rodney Keith Arnold, Joseph Gordon Brown, Terrence Arnold Handley and John William Murphy will forever be remembered with this posthumous recognition.“

“Oregonians who served our nation deserve the utmost respect for the sacrifices they made during their service,” said Merkley. “This legislation honors the heroes of Operation Dustoff, including by recognizing the bravery of Gary Hagen and honoring the sacrifices of Rodney Keith Arnold, Joseph Gordon Brown, Terrence Arnold Handley, and John William Murphy. The helicopter crews of Operation Dustoff saved countless lives under incredibly dangerous circumstances during the Vietnam War. I’m glad to see that these heroic Oregonians and many others are being duly honored for their actions.”

Dustoff crews served aboard helicopter air ambulances performing aeromedical evacuation for United States, Vietnamese, and allied forces in Southeast Asia from May 1962 through March 1973.

The Senate passage of the bill last week sends the legislation to the House.