The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918 (amended by act of July 25, 1963), takes pride in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross (Posthumously) to Captain (Field Artillery) Robert Michael Snell, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam, while serving with Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 2d Battalion, 320th Artillery, 101st Airborne Division. Captain Snell distinguished himself on 14 June 1969 while serving as an artillery liaison officer to the 327th Infantry. In the early morning hours, an intense mortar attack followed by a ground assault was launched against Fire Support Base Berchtesgaden. When the first enemy rounds hit, several personnel were injured and in need of immediate medical attention. Captain Snell, with complete disregard for his own safety, moved fifty meters from his protected bunker through the heavy volume of enemy mortar fire to assist the wounded. He carried one wounded soldier back to the safety of the bunker and was going out the bunker door to retrieve another man when a round impacted at his feet and mortally wounded him. Captain Snell's unselfish dedication to his fellow soldiers was directly responsible for saving the life of the man he had carried to safety. Captain Snell's extraordinary heroism and dedication to duty, at the cost of his life, were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army. HQ USARV GO 166 Jan 19 70
Mike was born in Fort Worth, Texas the son of Mr and Mrs. Robert Bruce Snell. "Mike Snell was a very unusual young man. As red-blooded American as they come, he often reminded me of the early pioneers who came to found a great nation," his hometown newspaper, The Lamesa Press-Reporter, editorialized following his death, "The Mike Snell I knew was as plain as apple pie. A skinny youngster who wanted desperately to be a quarterback, but who lacked the native talent to be the star, he nevertheless became a reserve with more fortitude per pound than ever graced the turf at Lamesa High…the kind of boy every family dreams of raisin…Mike was a professional soldier who died at the pinnacle of his profession. He packed more love of country and more dedication to its preservation into a few short years than most of us will in a lifetime."
Mike Snell grew up in Lamesa, graduated from the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, NY, in 1966, and during his second tour of Vietnam, was an artillery captain with the 101st Airborne Division at the time of his death June 14, 1969.
His action early that morning earned him the Distinguished Service Cross, posthumously. Serving as artillery liaison officer to the 327th Infantry, Fire Support Base Berchtesgaden was attacked by an intense mortar assault, followed by intense ground assault. Snell moved 50 meters through intense enemy fire to assist the wounded. He carried one wounded soldier back to safety and was going out the bunker door to retrieve another man when a round impacted at his feet and mortally wounded him. His unselfish dedication saved the life of the man he carried to safety. Snell's first tour in Vietnam was December 1967-December 1968. His second tour began April 1969.
In a letter to his parents on September 1, 1968, during his first tour of Vietnam, he wrote "You know it probably is stupid. Why should I feel compelled to endure the worst of Vietnam. I could lose the game. I just don't want to die at 75 years and look back on nothing. This is very strong in me. I inherit it from you. I guess a feeling of independence is one of the greatest things I've got. That and broad mindedness. No doubt where that came from, Old Man. I guess I just want to live a little unusual. I'm satisfied so far. But from here on come The Golden Years." Permian Basin Vietnam Memorial