b. 14/03/1942 Fort Myers, Florida. d. 01/04/1994 Pensacola, Florida.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 19/06/1968 Vietnam.
Viet Nam Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient. He was a Commander in the US Navy. He was awarded the Medal of Honor as a Lieutenant, Search and Rescue Helicopter Pilot, on the "USS Preble", Detachment 104, Helicopter Support Squadron 7 for action on June 19, 1968.
LT Lassen became the first Naval Aviator and fifth Navy man to be awarded the Medal of Honor (MOH) for bravery in Southeast Asia (SEA)/Vietnam. He was also only one of three Naval Aviators to be awarded the MOH in SEA (along with CAPT Michael J. Estocin, and RADM James Stockdale), and the only rotary wing Naval Aviator to be awarded the MOH in SEA.
He remained in the Navy for a career and retired in 1982 with the rank of Commander, residing in Pensacola, Florida until his death in 1994, from cancer. In 2001, a destroyer was commissioned and named after him: the USS Lassen.
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as pilot and aircraft commander of a search and rescue helicopter, attached to Helicopter Support Squadron 7, during operations against enemy forces in North Vietnam. Launched shortly after midnight to attempt the rescue of 2 downed aviators, Lt. (then Lt. (J.G.)) Lassen skillfully piloted his aircraft over unknown and hostile terrain to a steep, tree-covered hill on which the survivors had been located. Although enemy fire was being directed at the helicopter, he initially landed in a clear area near the base of the hill, but, due to the dense undergrowth, the survivors could not reach the helicopter. With the aid of flare illumination, Lt. Lassen successfully accomplished a hover between 2 trees at the survivors' position Illumination was abruptly lost as the last of the flares were expended, and the helicopter collided with a tree, commencing a sharp descent. Expertly righting his aircraft and maneuvering clear, Lt. Lassen remained in the area, determined to make another rescue attempt, and encouraged the downed aviators while awaiting resumption of flare illumination. After another unsuccessful, illuminated rescue attempt, and with his fuel dangerously low and his aircraft significantly damaged, he launched again and commenced another approach in the face of the continuing enemy opposition. When flare illumination was again lost, Lt. Lassen, fully aware of the dangers in clearly revealing his position to the enemy, turned on his landing lights and completed the landing. On this attempt, the survivors were able to make their way to the helicopter. En route to the coast he encountered and successfully evaded additional hostile antiaircraft fire and, with fuel for only 5 minutes of flight remaining, landed safely aboard U.S.S. Jouett
BURIAL LOCATION: BARRANCAS NATIONAL CEMETERY, PENSACOLA, FLORIDA.
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