COLONEL MICHAEL M. KURTH (then Lieutenant Colonel), United States Marine Corps. For extraordinary heroism as Commanding Officer of Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 369 during Operation DESERT STORM on 26 February 1991. As the 1st Marine Division attacked north to prevent Iraqi forces from escaping, Lieutenant Colonel Kurth’s repeated acts of bravery in providing close in fire support to embattled Marines helped collapse the Iraqi defenses. With visibility nearly impossible due to hundreds of burning oil field fires, and with total disregard for his own safety, he flew under and perilously close to high voltage powerlines. Placing himself at grave personal risk to intermittent Iraqi ground and anti-aircraft fire, Lieutenant Colonel Kurth flew continuously for ten hours during the most intense periods of combat, twice having to control crash his aircraft. Employing a commercially borrowed Forward Looking Infrared Radar and Laser Designator, he flew through the Al Burgan Oil Fields fires, between the HA-1W holding pattern and Task Force RIPPER’s forward lines, leading flight after flight of rearmed gunships to requesting units and then remaining dangerously exposed forward of friendly lines as he designated Iraqi armored vehicles for engagement. Lieutenant Colonel Kurth’s courage and fearless dedication rallied fellow Marines and resulted in the destruction of as many as 70 Iraqi armored vehicles destroyed that day. By his outstanding display of decisive leadership, unlimited courage in the face of heavy enemy fire, and utmost devotion to duty, Lieutenant Colonel Kurth reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Services.
Mr. Kurth is a life member and resides in Southern California.