Chief Master Sgt. Richard Etchberger: Belated Medal of Honor

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Through the long night, Chief Master Sgt. Richard Etchberger repulsed enemy assaults. He saved the lives of others by sacrificing his own.

Chief Master Sgt. Richard Etchberger was one of the most highly trained radar technicians in the U.S. Air Force. A highly-effective and well-liked leader, he was the crew chief of a radar team on LS 85 the night of the attack.

Despite having little combat training, Etchberger held off the enemy while simultaneously directing air strikes into the area and calling for air rescue. When a helicopter arrived in the morning, Etchberger repeatedly and deliberately risked his own life. He left his safe position and braved enemy fire to place three wounded technicians in helicopter slings.

With his remaining crew safely aboard, Etchberger finally climbed into the rescue sling. Tragically, a burst of enemy ground fire fatally wounded him as the helicopter turned away from the mountain.

For his heroism and sacrifice, Etchberger received the Air Force Cross posthumously. The operation remained classified, however, and the existence of the award was not publicly acknowledged until 1998. After the declassification of LS 85 and a reevaluation of his actions, Etchberger was awarded the Medal of Honor in 2010.

Click here to return to LS 85: In the Jaws of the Enemy.