College Alumnus Gary Michael Rose Receives Medal of Honor for Heroism

Gary Michael Rose during Medal of Honor ceremony; U.S. Army photo by John Martinez

A University of Oklahoma College of Professional and Continuing Studies (PACS) alumnus received the nation’s highest military honor for bravery last month, nearly 50 years after his heroic actions while serving as a special forces medic during the Vietnam War.

Retired Army Capt. Gary Michael Rose, 70, was presented the Medal of Honor by President Donald J. Trump during a ceremony Oct. 23 at the White House. Rose earned a Master of Arts in Communication from PACS in 1989.

Despite being wounded himself, Rose treated dozens of wounded soldiers and saved countless lives.

Rose was honored for repeatedly risking his life and putting himself in the line of enemy fire during Operation Tailwind, a top-secret, four-day mission in Laos in September 1970. Despite being wounded himself, Rose treated dozens of wounded soldiers and saved countless lives.

Rose was nominated for the award in 1971, but it was downgraded to the Distinguished Service Cross because of the classified nature of the Laos mission. 

“For many years, the story of Mike’s heroism has gone untold,” President Trump said during the White House ceremony. “Mike and his unit slashed through the dense jungle, dodged bullets, dodged explosives, dodged everything that you can dodge because they threw it all at him, and continuously returned fire as they moved deeper and deeper into enemy territory.”

Rose joined the Army in 1967 at the age of 19. He attended Field Artillery Officer Basic at Fort Sill in 1973, and while there earned a bachelor’s degree in education and military science from Cameron University.

As a special forces medic, he served three overseas tours. He retired from the Army in 1987 after earning more than 15 service awards and went on to work in manufacturing, retiring permanently in 2010.

Rose called the honor a collective medal with the fellow men he served with, some of whom attended the White House ceremony.

“I was raised in an environment that if you agreed to do something, basically on a handshake, you have an obligation to do it, because you said you’d do it,” Rose said in a video on the U.S. Army website recounting Operation Tailwind. “Not only the obligation to do it, but to do it the best that you know how, or can possibly do.”

More about Rose's heroism in Vietnam and the recognition he received can be found on the U.S. Army website.

U.S. Army photo by John Martinez

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Tami Althoff

Tami Althoff holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism. She is a reporter with more than 20 years’ experience working for newspapers, including The Oklahoman. She has covered everything from breaking news to local music and art. She loves sports, especially OU football and basketball games, where she often embarrasses her children by yelling too loudly.