US Navy Petty Officer Michael E. Thornton
Rank and organization: Petty Officer, U.S. Navy (SEAL)
Navy Advisory Group. Place and date: Republic of Vietnam, 31 October
1972. Entered service at: Spartanburg, S.C. Born: 23 March 1949, Greenville, S.C.
United States Navy Petty Officer Michael E. Thornton
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while participating in
a daring operation against enemy forces. PO Thornton, as Assistant U.S. Navy Advisor, along with a U.S. Navy lieutenant serving
as Senior Advisor, accompanied a 3-man Vietnamese Navy SEAL patrol on an intelligence gathering and prisoner capture operation
against an enemy-occupied naval river base. Launched from a Vietnamese Navy junk in a rubber boat, the patrol reached land
and was continuing on foot toward its objective when it suddenly came under heavy fire from a numerically superior force.
The patrol called in naval gunfire support and then engaged the enemy in a fierce firefight, accounting for many enemy casualties
before moving back to the waterline to prevent encirclement.
Upon learning that the Senior Advisor had been hit by enemy fire and was believed to be dead, PO Thornton returned through
a hail of fire to the lieutenant's last position; quickly disposed of 2 enemy soldiers about to overrun the position, and
succeeded in removing the seriously wounded and unconscious Senior Naval Advisor to the water's edge. He then inflated the
lieutenant's lifejacket and towed him seaward for approximately 2 hours until picked up by support craft. By his extraordinary
courage and perseverance, PO Thornton was directly responsible for saving the life of his superior officer and enabling the
safe extraction of all patrol warriors, thereby upholding the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. From: historical
accounts & records
LINK TO BRAVEHORSE WARRIORS VOLUME TWO