Army Marine Corp Navy Air Force Coast Guard Police Firefighters Citizen Heroes

Chief Master Sergeant Richard Loy Etchberger

Detachment 1, 1043rd Radar Evacuation Squadron

Chief Master Sergeant Etchberger's Act of Heroism

Medal of Honor Recipient on September 21, 2011

From his Medal of Honor Citation:

The president of the United States of America, authorized by act of Congress, March 3, 1863, has awarded, in the name of the Congress, the Medal of Honor to Chief Master Sgt. Richard L. Etchberger, United States Air Force, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life, above and beyond the call of duty.

Chief Master Sgt. Richard L. Etchberger distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism on March 11, 1968, in the country of Laos. While assigned as Ground Radar Superintendent, Detachment 1, 1043rd Radar Evacuation Squadron. On that day, Chief Etchberger and his team of technicians were manning a top-secret defensive position at Lima Site 85 when the base was overrun by an enemy ground force. Receiving sustained and withering heavy artillery attacks directly upon his unit’s position, Chief Etchberger’s entire crew lay dead or severely wounded. Despite having received little or no combat training, Chief Etchberger single-handedly held off the enemy with an M-16, while simultaneously directing air strikes into the area and calling for air rescue.

Because of his fierce defense and heroic and selfless actions, he was able to deny the enemy access to his position and save the lives of his remaining crew. With the arrival of the rescue aircraft, Chief Etchberger without hesitation repeatedly and deliberately risked his own life, exposing himself to heavy enemy fire, in order to place three surviving wounded comrades into rescue slings hanging from the hovering helicopter waiting to airlift them to safety. With his remaining crew safely aboard, Chief Etchberger finally climbed into the evacuation sling himself, only to be fatally wounded by enemy ground fire as he was being raised into the aircraft.

Chief Etchberger’s bravery and determination in the face of persistent enemy fire and overwhelming odds are in keeping with the highest standards of performance and traditions of military service. 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 on himself and the United States Air Force.

My Hero

My father was killed on a Top Secret mission that was kept under wraps for more than 40 years. This is my way of honoring him by using the family's favorite picture of him with the Air Force Medal of Honor finally draped around his neck.


1 December 1967

Hi Ed,

No, its not that I'm slow in answering your letter - I just got it yesterday. Took a while in catching up to me.

Buddy, it sure was good to hear from you and I certainly feel good that you took the time to write such a lengthy and informative letter. I'm glad to hear that you're finally settled with the family and into another job.

As far as mailing those packages you ask about, send them to Kay in Pennsylvania. That's right - she's there with the boys living in my hometown and I'm in Udorn, Thailand.

It's a very long complicated story - I wasn't shafted - I volunteered - fortunately Kay understands me and she was for it and that sure helps. Fortunately too, the gods chose to smile on me and I was picked for a special project at Bolling Air Force Base, Washington, DC to this unit to do some radar work. I volunteered for the job and here I am. It is the most challenging job I'll ever have in my life - I love it, travel all the time - hate to be away from home - but believe in the job and as I said just love it.

Well Ed, hope this finds you and family well and ready for a merry and happy holiday. My best to the wife.

No rush on the package - after the holidays is fine. Let me know the cost - ah yes, if there's anything I can get you from Thailand let me know - be glad to try.

All for now.

Sincerely, Etch


Our Mission

Board of Directors

Honorary Board

General Burwell B. Bell, U.S. Army (Retired) General Richard Cody Rear Admiral Robert C. Crates, SC, USNR (Retired) Charlie-Daniels Julie Gold Kelsey Grammer Jamie Huysman The Judds John Ondrasik Geraldo Rivera Marlon Shirley General Charles F. Wald, USAF (Ret) Past Honorary Board Members

Financial Advisors


Decorative Leather Books FedEx Corporation Google Adwords Humana The Juilliard School KnightVision Photography Original Oil Portraits Steinway & Sons TechKnowSys US Engineering White House Advertising & Design 55 Productions

Search by Hero Last Name


Enter your email address to receive special notices, announcements and related information

We do not share, rent or sell email addresses