LCDR Francis Eugene Rhodes, Jr.
The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Lieutenant Commander Francis Eugene Rhodes, Jr. (NSN: 0-552977), United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism on 15 September 1967 during action against communist insurgent (Viet Cong) forces in the Mekong Delta region of the Republic of Vietnam. As Commander River Assault Squadron ELEVEN, Task Force 117 (TF-117), Lieutenant Commander Rhodes was in command of twenty-three riverine assault craft, with elements of the 2d Brigade, 9th United States Army Infantry Division embarked. While transiting the Rach Ba Rai River during combat riverine strike, search and destroy operations in the Cam Son Secret Zone, the entire task group came under heavy Viet Cong fire from fortified bunkers on both banks of the river, sustaining numerous personnel casualties and damage to several boats. Although momentarily stunned when two rockets knocked him and his crew to the deck, Lieutenant Commander Rhodes stationed himself in an exposed position on his command boat and, in the face of heavy, direct enemy fire from close range, quickly noted the condition and disposition of his units, took personal command, by radio, of all units, and ordered them to regroup and return downstream out of the enemy’s fortified area. After transferring casualties and reassigning personnel so that all boats were manned, Lieutenant Commander Rhodes again took his task group up the river and was subjected once more to heavy enemy fire. Hard hit for a second time by a large number of casualties, he nevertheless successfully landed embarked army units ashore in the assigned objective area, and set up a naval blockade of the river. In the face of enemy fire which could have resulted in a devastating defeat by the Viet Cong, Lieutenant Commander Rhodes made a most significant contribution to an operation that resulted in 213 Viet Cong killed in action, 66 probably killed, 600 bunkers destroyed, and a large quantity of war munitions captured. His heroic conduct and inspiring devotion to duty in the face of intense enemy opposition were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
General Orders: Authority: Navy Department Board of Decorations and Medals
Action Date: 15-Sep-67
Rank: Lieutenant Commander
Regiment: River Assault Squadron 11
Division: Task Force 117 (TF-117)