Vietnam War airman is posthumously awarded Medal of Honor
WASHINGTON – More than four decades after he saved three airmen but lost his life, Chief Master Sgt. Richard L. Etchberger was awarded the Medal of Honor in a ceremony at the White House on Tuesday.
“Even though it has been 42 years, it’s never too late to do the right thing, and it’s never too late to pay tribute to our Vietnam veterans and their families,” President Barack Obama said.
In March 1968, Etchberger was one of 19 airmen on a secret mission in Laos calling in airstrikes on the Ho Chi Minh trail when the North Vietnamese overran their base, trapping Etchberger and other airmen on the ledge of a steep cliff.
“As a technician, he had no formal combat training,” Obama said. “In fact, he had only recently been issued a rifle, but Dick Etchberger was the very definition of an NCO — a leader determined to take care of his men.”
Etchberger fought off the enemy and later loaded wounded men into a helicopter. When the fighting was over, only seven airmen survived, three of whom owed their lives to Etchberger.
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