Captain Ronald A. Radcliffe

Captain Ronald Radcliffe won the Distinguished Service Cross  and the Silver Cross for his heroic service in the army during the Viet Nam War. Part of the 4th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Aviation Brigade, Radcliffe was awarded the Silver Cross on February 20, 1972  and the Distinguished Service Cross on April 28, 1972.

Captain Ronald A. Radcliffe was serving as  Pilot of a Light Observation Scout helicopter with Troop F, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Aviation Brigade, during a rescue mission in Viet Nam on February 20th, 1972. Radcliffe received a call for assistance when another scout helicopter from his Troop was shot down in the notoriously dangerous mushroom area near the Cu Chi, Republic of Vietnam. Captain Radcliffe began making low-level passes to mark the crash site with smoke grenades. He immediately began receiving machinegun and small arms fire, sustaining several hits in the aircraft. When his helicopter developed a severe vibration, he was forced to break station to check out his aircraft for damages.

Ascertaining that the helicopter was still flyable, Captain Radcliffe ordered his two crew members to stay behind. He immediately took off and continued to mark the crash site so ARVN recondos could be inserted to secure the area. After this was completed Radcliffe landed his own helicopter in the landing zone to extract the sole survivor of the crash. At the same time, he vectored a utility helicopter into the landing zone to extract the bodies of the two dead crew members. During the whole sequence of events, Captain Radcliffe flew through the heavily defended area approximately forty to fifty times, remaining under fire approximately 80% of the time. His crew killed an estimated ten to twelve enemy, knocked out a machinegun position, and his aircraft sustained twenty-nine hits.

Captain Ronald A. Radcliffe's courage, dogged determination and skilled expertise as a pilot proved to be the domineering force during the rescue efforts. Captain Radcliffe's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service. Captain Radcliffe was given the distinguished Silver Star for his brave actions.

Only a few months later, on April 28th 1972, Captain Ronald A Radcliffe showed his heroism in Viet Nam and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his valiant efforts. Still a pilot of a Light Observation Scout helicopter with Troop F, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Aviation Brigade, in the Republic of Vietnam, Captain Radcliffe faced hostile fire from the enemy. Almost immediately upon take off from Quang Tri City, Captain Radcliffe's helicopter began to receive sporadic enemy automatic small arms fire that was to last throughout the mission. Because the North Vietnamese Army units dispersed themselves among large groups of fleeing civilians, much of the hostile fire could not be returned for fear of injuring civilians.

Despite being unable to return the enemy fire, Captain Ronald Radcliffe volunteered to continue the mission. Observing tank tracks which led into a village, from which both gunships in Captain Radcliffe's flight were receiving automatic small arms fire, he followed the tracks into the village and discovered one Russian amphibious tank camouflaged with palm trees. He skillfully maneuvered his helicopter to a position where his door gunner could mark it with a smoke grenade.

Gunships rolled in and destroyed the enemy tank with heat rockets. Returning to the tank for a damage assessment, Captain Ronald Radcliffe observed a second tank. Immediately turning his attention to the new target, he maneuvered his aircraft so that his crew chief could drop one white phosphorus grenade into the open hatch and one next to the outside of the tank. The interior of the enemy tank burst into flames completely destroying it.

The second gunship in the flight began to take hits from intense ground fire. After radioing a distress call the gunship burst into flames, became inverted and crashed. With complete disregard for his own safety Captain Radcliffe flew to where the gunship had crashed. Arriving at the crash site, he noticed that while the pilot was dead and trapped inside the burning aircraft, the aircraft commander had been thrown clear and appeared to be alive.

Despite receiving small arms fire from a wood line approximately twenty-five meters distant, Captain Ronald Radcliffe landed only twenty feet from the gunship. Noticing that his crew chief was having trouble carrying the critically wounded aircraft commander through the knee-deep mud, he hovered his aircraft to within ten feet of the burning aircraft and its exploding ordnance. At this point the heat was so intense it burned the hair on Captain Radcliffe's face. After his crew chief and the mortally wounded gunship aircraft commander were on board, Captain Ronald Radcliffe directed his crew chief in applying first aid in an effort to save the life of his comrade, while evacuating him to an aid station in Quang Tri.

Other awards and honors given to Captain Ronald A Radcliffe include six Distinguished Flying Crosses, 4 Purple Hearts, 2 bronze Stars,  2 Army Commendation Medals,  1 Air Metal with “V” device,  58 Air Medals for flying over 1900 hours of combat assault flight time in Vietnam,  2 Vietnamese Crosses of Gallantry one with palm, The Vietnam Service Medal, The Vietnam Campaign Medal, and The Chicago Medal of Merit from Mayor Daley in 1972.

He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in aviation education and commissioned a Second Lieutenant from Tennessee State University, Nashville, Tennessee in 1966. In 1985, he received a Master of Arts degree in Public Administration from George Washington University, Washington, D.C.

General Newton retired from service in 2000 after thirty four years of service to the country in the United States Air Force. After his retirement, Lloyd W. “Fig” Newton, became the Vice President for International Programs and Business Development for Pratt & Whitney Military Engines in East Hartford, Connecticut. As Vice President, he is responsible for international military sales, assessing U.S. military requirements and developing business for Pratt’s military engine services. He leads a team of 45 personnel who manages a host of domestic and international customers with a sales target of nearly $1 Billion.

In 2008 Newton endorsed Barack Obama for President and appeared on stage at the Democratic National Convention at Invesco Field with other former military leaders to lend support to Obama's campaign.

General Newton has received numerous awards and honors. In 1997 Newton received an Honorary doctorate in aeronautical science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida, and in 1999 an honorary  doctor of science degree from Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina. Other awards and honors include: Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Air Force Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf cluster, Meritorious Service ribbon, Air Medal ribbon with 16 oak leaf clusters,  Air Force Commendation Medal, Outstanding Unit  Award with "V" device and two oak leaf clusters, Vietnam Service Medal, Presidential Unit Citation (Philippines), and the Vietnam Medal.

Click on the links below for detailed information and photos on African American veterans who rose to the top of their field

Revolutionary & Civil War

The Revolutionary War set precedents for black military service. Both Africans and African Americans fought on both sides of this war, often as a means for a black slave to win his freedom.

World War I

When World War I broke out, there were four all-black regiments: the 9th and 10th Cavalry and the 24th and 25th Infantry.

World War II

African Americans made up over one million of the more than 16 million U.S. men and women to serve in World War II. Some of these men served in infantry, artillery, and tank units.

Tuskegee Airmen

The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African American military aviators in the United States armed forces.

Vietnam War & Iraq

The Vietnam War saw the highest proportion of blacks ever to serve in an American war. During the height of the U.S. involvement blacks, who formed 11 percent of the American population, made up 12.6 percent of the soldiers in Vietnam.


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