Jon R. Cavaiani
Medal of Honor
Staff Sergeant Jon R. Cavaiani
4 and 5 June 1971
Vietnam Training Advisory Group
5th Special Forces Group (ABN)
Republic of Vietnam
Entered service at: Fresno, Calif.
Born: 2 August 1943, Royston, England.
STAFF SERGEANT JON R. CAVAIANI , UNITED STATES ARMY, United States Military Assistance Command, Vietnam Studies and Observations Group Army Vietnam Advisory Group Staff Sergeant Jon R. Cavaiani distinguished himself on 4 and 5 June 1971, as platoon leader of a security platoon providing security for an isolated radio relay site located within enemy-held territory in the Republic of Vietnam. On 4 June, the site came under an intense barrage of automatic weapons, rocket-propelled grenade and mortar fire from a superior enemy force. Sergeant Cavaiani, acting with complete disregard for his personal safety, repeatedly exposed himself to heavy enemy fire while directing the platoon’s fire and rallying the platoon in its desperate fight for survival. Simultaneously, he returned heavy suppressive fire on the assaulting force. Due to his ground direction, three extraction helicopters were able to land and evacuate the majority of the platoon although increasingly intense enemy fire kept other helicopters from landing. Forced to stay overnight, Sergeant Cavaiani directed the platoon to strengthen their defenses. On the morning of 5 June, with heavy fog restricting visibility, a superior-sized enemy force launched an annihilation attack on the American unit. Advancing methodically in two ranks, the first rank fired a heavy volume of automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenade fire at the same time that the second rank threw a steady barrage of hand grenades at the beleaguered force. Sergeant Cavaiani returned the heavy barrage of small arms and hand grenade fire, but was unable to slow them down. Ordering his platoon to escape, Sergeant Cavaiani recovered a machine gun, stood up and began sweeping machine gun fire against the two advancing enemy ranks. Through his valiant efforts, the majority of the platoon members escaped. While inflicting severe losses on the advancing enemy force, Sergeant Cavaiani was wounded numerous times. He eventually escaped, only to be captured after ten days of evading the enemy. He was released from captivity in March 1973.
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