WASHINGTON, Sept. 21, 2010 – President Barack Obama today presented the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry to the family of an Air Force chief master sergeant killed in action 42 years ago in Laos.
“Today, we present the Medal of Honor to an American who displayed such gallantry more than four decades ago: Chief Master Sgt. Richard L. Etchberger,” the president said at a White House ceremony. “This medal reflects the gratitude of an entire nation.”
Etchberger’s brother, Robert, and sons, Cory Etchberger, Richard Etchberger and Steve Wilson, attended the ceremony.God Bless you for your heroism, RIP.
The president detailed Etchberger’s actions as he fought through the night of March 11, 1968, holding off the enemy, calling in air strikes and loading three fellow servicemembers into an evacuation helicopter before he was shot by enemy forces who overran his worksite - a secret radar installation manned by Air Force technicians disguised as civilians.
Lima Site 85, set above the clouds on a steep mountaintop in nominally neutral Laos housed a radio transmitter – later upgraded to a radar installation - dedicated to directing U.S. air-to-ground bombing in North Vietnam from 1966 to 1968. The battle at Lima Site 85 resulted in the largest Air Force ground combat loss of the Vietnam War.
“Of those 19 men on the mountain that night, only seven made it out alive,” Obama said. “Three of them owed their lives to the actions of Dick Etchberger.”
During a “small, private” Pentagon ceremony in the winter of 1968, Etchberger’s wife, Catherine, and sons were presented with an Air Force Cross, Obama said, but public awareness of Etchberger’s actions didn’t occur until the Air Force declassified his mission in 1986.[More..]
Cross posted at the Jawa Report