Medal of Honor, George Kenton Sisler
As the date of departure for the 307th AREFS from Lincoln AFB drew closer, there were more and more farewell get-togethers for those leaving and those that were staying at Lincoln. One of the young Airmen who would transfer to Selfridge with the 307th AREFS was George Kenton Sisler. His friends in the squadron knew him as “Ken”. “I got to know Ken soon after he arrived at Lincoln”, remembered Ken Tarwater. “Probably because he was from Missouri. And talking with someone from your home state was a little bit of home. That's just the way it was. I can remember going to his room and watching some of Ken's home movies of him before he joined the Air Force, as a smoke jumper in southern Missouri, parachuting into forest fires that he had taken from a helmet mounted movie camera. I remember him having that camera and taking movies of us. He loved to talk about parachute jumping.”
George Sisler went to Selfridge with the squadron and finished his tour of duty in the Air Force. After discharge he went to college and earned a degree. “Ken” heard his country's call to duty again and enlisted in the Army this time. With his college degree he earned a commission.
With his experience and love of parachuting, it was natural for him to go to jump school at Fort Benning. After jump school, Ken won the coveted Green Beret, and served with Army Intelligence. Serving with the 5th Special Forces he was sent to the Republic of VietNam.
Lt. George “Ken” Sisler was leading a patrol deep in “Indian Country” on February 7, 1967. While on this patrol, his platoon was ambushed by a company sized enemy force. “Ken” deployed his men for defense and called for air strikes. Being the leader, Ken rallied his men and shouted not only orders, but also encouragement to his men. Two members of his patrol were wounded by enemy gunfire. Without hesitating, Ken left his platoon and ran back to his wounded men while under enemy fire. He grabbed one of them and started carrying him back to the perimeter when he again came under increased enemy gunfire. Ken laid the wounded man down, grabbed his rifle and killed three of the charging enemy soldiers. He then threw a grenade, knocking out a machine gun nest that was firing at his men. Ken ran back to the wounded man and dragged him into the perimeter. By this time, the enemy was attacking the left side of the position and several more men had been wounded.
Without hesitation, Ken grabbed several grenades and charged the advancing enemy force. He kept throwing grenades and firing his rifle at the oncoming enemy. His action caused the enemy assault to falter, and they began to break off the attack and withdraw. He continued to move around the area, directing his men in the defense of the perimeter and calling in more air strikes on the enemy as they left the area. During the final phase of the battle, Ken was hit by enemy gunfire and mortally wounded.
For his heroic action that day, 1/Lt. George Kenton Sisler was awarded the Bronze Star with V for Valor device attached and the Purple Heart. The story of Ken¹s valor was not over. Members of his platoon, who were there with Ken, along with fellow Green Berets would not let his story of bravery and self sacrifice fade. They filed after action reports outlining Ken¹s actions and his heroism.
On June 27,1968, Secretary of the United States Army, Stanley Resor presided over a presentation ceremony at the Pentagon. The citation read, in part: “For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty…His extraordinary leadership, infinite courage and selfless concern for his men saved the lives of a number of his comrades. His actions reflect great credit upon himself and uphold the highest tradition of the military service.” 1/Lt. George Kenton Sisler was posthumously awarded The Medal of Honor. Our nations highest award for heroism was presented to George's wife, Jane and two sons by Secretary Resor on behalf of the President of the United States.
On 28 February 1998, there was a commissioning ceremony of U.S. Naval Ship (USNS) Sisler, a large medium-speed rollon-rolloff (LMSR) vessel. 1LT Sisler's widow christened the ship and several other members of his family participated in the ceremony, which took place at the National Steel and Shipbuilding Company in San Diego, California. The naming of a LMSR after Lieutenant Sisler is a fitting tribute to all military and civilian personnel who have played an important role in the history of military intelligence and have paid the supreme sacrifice in their service to the nation.
USNS George Sisler
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