The East Room of the White House was packed. A retired Army Lt. Col. stood at attention in his dress uniform adorned with ribbons and medals. As he gazed out at the audience he could see men in business suits sitting up front -- wearing around their necks Medals of Honor. He would soon be joining them. Bruce Crandall was more than a helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War. He was a hero.
There was the ceremonial "Hail to the Chief" as President Bush briskly walked in. The president spoke and told the tale of the heroics from that day in 1965 when Bruce Crandall's Assault Helicopter Battalion was pinned down by two North Vietnamese regiments. Men were wounded and some died. It looked like a massacre. But Crandall, along with Capt. Ed Freeman and no armament on their helicopter, bravely made run after run after run -- during 14 hours of flying time, they rescued 70 men. Freeman received the Medal of Honor in 2001.
Photo caption: President Bush awards the Medal of Honor to Bruce Crandall of Manchester, Wash., during a ceremony in the East Room of the White house today. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
The East Room is used for many events; news conferences, presentation of health plans, energy proposals, and introductions of sports teams who have won world championships.
But today was different. It was a reminder that there are East Room events and then there are EAST ROOM events. This was something special, as correspondent Bob Faw will show you tonight on the broadcast.