Profiles of Valor: U.S. Air Force CMSgt Etchberger

“Plausible denial” was the word in 1968, when some U.S. military personnel were taking the battle to the communist enemy in Cambodia and Laos as “civilians.” What was undeniable, and what finally became crystal clear decades later, was the heroism and selflessness that was exhibited by one of those men, United States Air Force Chief Master Sergeant Richard Loy Etchberger. In March 1968, a remote radar site in Laos, known as Lima Site 85, was attacked and eventually overrun. Etchberger, one of the defenders at that site, remained in his position despite heavy fire that had killed or wounded most of his comrades. Fighting with everything at his disposal, including calling in air strikes, he battled back. When med-evac helos finally came, he put his wounded comrades aboard first, braving enemy fire to get them up to safety before he himself was mortally wounded. Though he had received posthumously the Air Force Cross for his actions that day, Etchberger will now receive his full due: the Medal of Honor.


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