Harold Birky was born on March 7, 1950, in Kalispell, Montana. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy on May 15, 1969, and completed basic training at NTC San Diego, California, in July 1969. Birky next attended Naval Basic Electrician training at NTC San Diego from July to August 1969, followed by Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training with Class 055 at NAB Coronado, California, from November 1969 to April 1970. His first assignment was with SEAL Team ONE at NAB Coronado from April to October 1970, and then deployed with his Team to South Vietnam from October 1970 until he was killed in action on January 30, 1971. Harold Birky was buried at the English River Church of the Brethren Cemetery in South English, Iowa.
His Bronze Star Medal w/V Citation reads:
For meritorious achievement while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in armed conflict against the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong communist aggressors in the Republic of Vietnam from 18 October 1970 to 30 January 1971. While serving as automatic weapons man for United States Navy SEAL Team One, Detachment Gold, Xray Platoon, Fireman BIRKY performed his duties in an exemplary manner. He participated in thirty combat operations and was instrumental in the capture or destruction of numerous weapons, supplies and enemy structures. In addition, Fireman BIRKY was an assistant in the platoon armory. His efforts ensured the platoon's ability to maintain all weapons in an operative status. On 13 December 1970, Fireman BIRKY was covering a bunker when a Viet Cong threw two grenades out of the bunker and charged out with his weapon. Although painfully wounded, he prevented the enemy from causing further casualties. Fireman BIRKY's exemplary professionalism, devotion to duty and courage under fire reflected great credit upon himself and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
The Combat Distinguishing Device is authorized.