#VeteranOfTheDay Air Force Veteran William H. Pitsenbarger



Air Force Veteran William H. Pitsenbarger is today's Veteran of the Day.

TToday’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Air Force Veteran William H. Pitsenbarger, a Medal of Honor recipient who saved lives during Vietnam.

William Pitsenbarger grew up in Piqua, Ohio, and dreamed of quitting high school to join the Green Berets. However, he remained in school. After graduating in 1962, Pitsenbarger joined the Air Force.

Pitsenbarger began his service in a series of rigorous military schools. These schools included U.S. Army parachute school, survival school, rescue and survival medical course and the U.S. Navy’s scuba diving school. Three years after joining the Air Force, Pitsenbarger arrived in Vietnam in August 1965. Here, he would complete missions as part of Detachment Six of the U.S. Air Force’s 38th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron. On Pitsenbarger’s path serving as a pararescueman, he completed more than 250 missions.

During one of his missions in Saigon, Pitsenbarger hung from an HH-43’s cable to rescue a wounded South Vietnamese soldier from a burning minefield. His actions earned him an Airman’s Medal and the Republic of Vietnam’s Medal of Military Merit and Gallantry Cross with bronze palm.

Pitsenbarger was killed in action April 11, 1966. A battalion of Viet Cong surrounded 134 soldiers from the First Infantry Division in the thick jungle near Saigon. Due to the rapidly increasing casualties and injuries, the only way to evacuate the wounded from the dense battle zone was with the U.S. Air Force HH-43 Huskie helicopters. Pitsenbarger volunteered to be lowered to the ground to help despite being under fire.

Integral to the mission, Pitsenbarger rescued nine Soldiers on several trips. When it came time to return to the helicopter, he chose to remain and help the troops. While on the ground, he helped deliver ammunition and give aid to the surviving Soldiers under fire. During the battle, he was mortally wounded. He was 21.

On June 30, 1966, Pitsenbarger received the Air Force Cross. After decades of requests for upgrade by surviving Soldiers and Airmen, the Medal of Honor was presented to his family on December 8, 2000. Pitsenbarger became the 59th Air Force Medal of Honor recipient and the sixth enlisted recipient.

 We honor his service.


Nominate a Veteran for #VeteranOfTheDay

Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.

It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. All it takes is an email to newmedia@va.gov with as much information as you can put together, along with some good photos. Visit our blog post about nominating to learn how to create the best submission.


Contributors

Writer: Kristen Reece 

Editor: Michelle Cannon 

Graphic artist: Deanna Cannon

Author

VAntagePoint Contributor

— VAntage Point Contributors provide insight and perspective on a wide range of Veterans issues. If you’d like to contribute a story to VAntage Point, learn how you can submit a guest blog at http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/how-to-submit-a-guest-post/

Comments

  1. james william Davis    

    I am an Airforce Vetnam Vet.
    I want to say Thank You William . And to all the other Para Rescue members.

  2. Senior Veterans Care Network    

    We honor the service of William Pitsenbarger.

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