CMSgt. Richard L. Etchberger on Tuesday posthumously received the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military decoration, from President Obama. Etchberger was honored for his conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity on a Laotian mountaintop on March 11, 1968, that saved the lives of at least three other airmen, but cost him his own life. “Our nation endures because there are patriots like Chief Master Sergeant Richard Etchberger—and our troops who are serving as we speak—who love this nation and defend it,” said Obama during the White House award ceremony. He added, “This medal reflects the gratitude of an entire nation.” Accepting the MOH on behalf of their father were Etchberger’s three sons: Cory, Richard, and Steve. Also in attendance was retired TSgt. John Daniel, one of the airmen whose life Etchberger saved. Etchberger was a ground radar superintendent at a top-secret radar position in Laos known as Lima Site 85. When North Vietnamese ground forces overran the site, Etchberger single-handedly fended them off with an M-16 and helped his wounded comrades to the evacuation sling of a waiting rescue helicopter. When he finally climbed into the sling himself, he was mortally wounded by ground fire. “Chief Etchberger’s gallantry, self-sacrifice, and profound concern for his fellow men at risk of his life, above and beyond the call of duty, reflect the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force,” states his award citation. Etchberger will be inducted into the Pentagon’s Hall of Heroes on Wednesday.
Etchberger MOH citation
White House blog entry, including access to award ceremony video
SAF/PA report by TSgt. Amaani Lyle
USAF’s Etchberger MOH Web page
For the account of what happened at Lima Site 85, read The Fall of Lima Site 85 from the Air Force Magazine archives.
See also Etchberger to Receive Medal of Honor from the Daily Report archives.