by Barbara Latta
|Many heroes have given their lives for others.|
Heroes saved many lives during all the wars and conflicts fought during the life of the United States. So many lie unknown, but their acts of valor preserved freedom and the life of their comrades.
One of the unknown stories is of Airman 1st Class William H. Pitsenbarger, an Air Force Para rescue and medical specialist from Piqua, Ohio who served during the Vietnam War. On April 11, 1966, Pitsenbarger, known as Pit to his comrades, left the safety of a helicopter to descend into a jungle under intense fire to treat and care for wounded Army soldiers of Company C, 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry of the 1st Infantry Division. After landing, Pitsenbarger ministered first aid to those he could find and dragged men behind trees and logs to get them out of the line of fire. He placed those who could be evacuated into wire baskets while others were ducking for cover. He refused to be evacuated himself several times. For two hours he crawled through dense jungle looking for wounded.
While some of the other soldiers were curled into fetal positions and paralyzed with shock, Pit saw two men outside the perimeter and made the comment, “We have to get those people.” He left the jungle, ran out into the open and another soldier came to aid him in dragging the men to safety. He continued cutting pants legs open and removing boots to administer aid in any way he could.
The soldiers around him were stunned anyone would voluntarily enter that realm of danger and stay with it. He became known to his comrades as the “bravest man they had ever known.”
He continued to treat and drag others to safety until finally succumbing to the shots of the enemy.
Soon after this battle, Pitsenbarger’s Air Force commanders nominated him for the Medal of
Honor, but he did not receive it because at the
time there was not enough documentation of his actions. After members of Company
C and his Air Force unit petitioned for the medal to be awarded posthumously,
the award was finally bestowed upon Airman Pitsenbarger on December 8, 2000 and
was presented to Pit’s father in a ceremony at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base
in Dayton, Ohio. Ten of the Army veterans whose eyewitness testimonies had been
instrumental in obtaining the medal’s approval were looking on.
|Vietnam War era medic administering aid.|
This is only one story of the thousands out there of unknown men and women who put others first and paid the ultimate price for their countrymen and the preservation of freedom.
Our lives go on day to day and hour by hour with no thought of what others went through for us to have the comfortable and free society we have today. We will never know of every act of heroism portrayed during the life of our country, but may we never forget their acts of valor and always commemorate Memorial Day.
Do you know about the acts of a hero? Share your thoughts.