Edward W. Spinaio

Lieutenant Edward W. Spinaio, 6th Platoon, 51st Company Infantry OCS, Fort Benning, Georgia.Rank: Major (Ret)

Branches: Infantry, Special Forces

Born: June 6, 1937

Deceased: April 16, 1992.

Interred: Hawaii State Veterans Cemetery, Oahu Island, Hawaii (Plot: 82-H 0 5)

Awards: Distinguished Service Cross, Several Purple Hearts, Several Silver Stars, Several Bronze Stars, Combat Infantry Badge, Numerous Service Ribbons.

Edward Spinaio - Distinguished Service Cross - Vietnam - January 1969Distinguished Service Cross

Captain Edward W. Spinaio  –  Citation for Distinguished Service Cross

“The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918 (amended by act of July 25, 1963), takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Captain (Infantry) Edward W. Spinaio, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations involving conflict with armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam, while serving with Advisory Team 100, United States Military Assistance Command, Vietnam. Captain Spinaio distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions on 12 January 1969 while serving as advisor to a Vietnamese Ranger battalion at Fire Support Base Dot located five kilometers from the Cambodian border in Tay Ninh Province. Learning that one company had encountered a North Vietnamese bunker complex during a sweep operation, Captain Spinaio quickly organized a relief force and joined the besieged unit. When the indigenous company commander was wounded by fire from a hostile bunker, Captain Spinaio single-handedly stormed the fortification and destroyed it with hand grenades. He then proceeded to move the wounded to the evacuation point. As the men were being loaded on the helicopter, two enemy soldiers charged the landing site in an attempt to damage the aircraft. Captain Spinaio shot both assailants, enabling the extraction to be completed successfully. Captain Spinaio’s extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.”

Summary: (Submitted by his friend John Cleckner) I have a lot of Eddie Spinaio stories, but I like this one best. Eddie and I hung out at OCS with the other SF Candidates and talked with Roger Donlon (MOH) on most every break. Roger was going through the IOAC at the same time we were going through OCS and would complain about all of the distractions being a MOH recipient and trying to get his studies done.

Then Eddie and I did the new OCS battalion extension thingy when things expanded before we were able to graduate. Eddie ended up in the 6th SFGA at Fort Bragg and went back to VN shortly before I did.

This is the “Story: and I am sticking to it, because I know it is true. Eddie was a true hero, he had the DSC, Silver Stars up the butt, same with Bronze Stars with V, Air Medals, ARCOMS etc, but the one thing I loved about Eddie was, he had a Purple Heart for almost every Valor Award he had. I had two Colonels I served with in the 82nd and Berlin, who had been S3 in Bn and Bde in VN and these guys had every medal known to man, except the PH, I asked them how they could get that many medals and not a PH.  The answer from both was that they got them all in a helicopter flying over the battle area. Eddie got his wearing a rucksack.

He and I also went through the Infantry Officers Advance Course together in 1971. He related this story to me one night when we had our wives out for steaks. Eddie was nominated for the Medal of Honor. Because of the years he had already served in SVN and the PHs he had, General Westmoreland told him that he could no longer serve in Combat in SVN until the MOH nomination was resolved. Westy asked Eddie where he would like to be assigned while waiting for the results of the MOH issue.

“Cool Eddie,” or as he was nicknamed in Special Forces, “Dirty Eddie Spinaio”, told Westy that if he could, he wanted to stay “Close By VN” and would it be possible for him to be the R & R Officer in Australia? Westy said, “DONE”, and Eddie went off to Australia for 6 months and performed his duties there with Great Distinction (I know).

His Medal of Honor was down graded to the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) and when the then COMUSMACV (General Abrams) pinned the DSC on Eddie and after seeing his record, he commented to Eddie that he should “TAKE A BREAK” from war and asked him where he would like to be assigned. Eddie looked Abrams straight in the eye and said, “Sir, if it would be possible, I would like to be assigned as the R & R Officer in Australia.” Creighton assigned him to a six month tour as the American R & R Officer in Australia, Now you know the rest of the Story…………

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