Washington, D.C. – Congressman Frank Lucas presented retired Maj. John Mullins, a Mountain Park, Okla. native, with a Silver Star award on Monday in Snyder, Okla. for his brave military actions against American enemies in the Vietnam War. A Silver Star award is presented when a person serves in any capacity with the U.S. Army and is cited for gallantry in action against an enemy of the United States.
“It was a great honor to present Maj. Mullins with the Silver Star award today,” said Lucas. “Mullins has a remarkable story and I am extremely grateful to him for serving our country so courageously in the Vietnam War. His gallant action in the War was very brave and his actions are a true testament to the veterans who have put their own lives in harm’s way to protect this country.”
Mullins was assigned to Special Forces Detachment B-53, 5th Special Forces group (Airborne) at Camp Long Thanh in the Republic of South Vietnam During the period of October 1968 to October 1969. His mission was to recruit North Vietnamese soldiers who had been captured, turn them, give them agent training, and insert them deep into enemy-held areas in Laos, Cambodia, and North Vietnam.
On May 26, 1969, Mullins and his assistant launch officer, Sgt. 1st Class Anthony Altano, were making insertions in Laos. They made two insertions by helicopter successfully; however, on the third insertion they came under heavy fire just after their agent was put on the ground. Mullins managed to get the agent back in the helicopter without injury; however Altano and the Vietnamese door gunner were injured. Mullins then manned the door gun and engaged the enemies, hitting several and causing the other enemies to seek cover. After their chase ship landed, Mullins managed to get Altano and the Vietnamese crew on board while still receiving fire. They managed to get airborne and Mullins tended to the wounded on the way back to their launch site in South Vietnam until the medics took over.
After Altano returned to Camp Long Thanh from the hospital, he told Mullins he was going to recommend him for the Silver Star. Mullins continued his military career, retiring with the rank of Maj. in 1981. Twenty-eight years later he made contact with his old commander, Lt. Col. Mark Ponzillo, and Ponzillo asked Mullins if he had ever received the Silver Star. Mullins told him he hadn’t received the award and Ponzillo prodded him to reopen the matter. So, after 43 years, Mullins received his long overdue Silver Star for gallantry in action. This is Mullins second Silver Star. The first was awarded in 1966, also for actions in the Vietnam War.