For Immediate Release
March 7, 2011
Unveiling Ceremony for Medal of Honor Recipient Held at Air Force Memorial
Arlington, VA – On Friday, March 11, 2011, Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley hosted an unveiling ceremony that recognized Chief Master Sergeant Richard L. Etchberger’s name on the Valor, Courage and Sacrifice Wall at the Air Force Memorial. Etchberger received the Medal of Honor, the U.S. military's highest decoration, posthumously for his heroic actions in combat on March 11, 1968, during the Vietnam War.
As a radar technician, he served at the summit of one of the tallest mountains in Laos, where he and a small team manned a radar station guiding American pilots in the air campaign against North Vietnam.
On March 11, 1968, the site came under attack from North Vietnamese soldiers. Chief Etchberger continued to direct air strikes and call for air rescue on his emergency radio, thus enabling the air evacuation force to locate their position. Etchberger tended to the wounded and fought off the advancing North Vietnamese troops until a rescue helicopter arrived.
Etchberger loaded his wounded men, one by one, each time exposing himself to enemy fire. But as the helicopter headed toward an air base in Thailand, an enemy soldier below fired into the underside of the aircraft, fatally wounding Etchberger. Of those 19 men on the mountain that night, only seven made it out alive. Three of them owed their lives to the actions of Chief Etchberger.
Generations of family of Chief Etchberger were present as their name became part of a permanent record of our nation's gratitude. With remarks from CMSgt (ret.) John McCauslin, CMSAF James A. Roy and Honorable Donley, this ceremony was a memorable moment to reflect on the gallantry, valor and courage displayed by CMSgt Etchberger, as he gave the ultimate sacrifice to save his fellowmen on March 11, 1968.
AFA was honored to be a part of this special ceremony in honor of CMSgt Etchberger, for serving above and beyond the call of duty.
For more pictures on this event, check out the
Air Force Memorial’s Facebook page
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