WILLIAM H PITSENBARGER
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HONORED ON PANEL 6E, LINE 102 OF THE WALL

WILLIAM HART PITSENBARGER

WALL NAME

WILLIAM H PITSENBARGER

PANEL / LINE

6E/102

DATE OF BIRTH

07/08/1944

CASUALTY PROVINCE

PROV UNKNOWN, MR III

DATE OF CASUALTY

04/11/1966

HOME OF RECORD

PIQUA

COUNTY OF RECORD

Miami County

STATE

OH

BRANCH OF SERVICE

AIR FORCE

RANK

A1C

REMEMBRANCES

LEFT FOR WILLIAM HART PITSENBARGER
POSTED ON 12.3.2001
POSTED BY: Roger Anderson

You are the one we wonder if we would have the courage to be.

With each of my visits to the USAF Museum, I always stop and spend a few minutes reflecting on you and the courage you demonstrated time and again. At almost the same time you were giving your life to save the lives of others, I was also an A1C, safely and comfortably assigned to a base worlds away. I am so sorry you were not able to continue to live a longer life. However, as brief as it was, your life was more meaningful than a thousand of ours' will ever be. I will always wonder, could I have had the courage to perform as selflessly you did. I am so glad your Museum exibit is now a Medal Of Honor exibit. I am very honored to salute you.
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POSTED ON 12.13.2000
POSTED BY: Charlie Epperson

Thank You

When I first saw you I was wounded looking up at you sliding down the hoist line like Batman. You was a cool dude for the brief time we were together at the battle of Operation Abilene. You saved many of us in Charlie Company and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts and then some. I know your stretching your wings big time up there and one day soon I will be there with you. Again thanks Pits.
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POSTED ON 12.7.2000
POSTED BY: John Pittsenbargar

Medal of Honor

On 8 Dec 2000, in a ceremony for you and your father just 35 years late, you finally are receiving the due you earned so long ago, the Medal of Honor. You are still remembered and always will be.











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POSTED ON 6.11.1999
POSTED BY: Frank Fox

Pitts

Pitts, you had to have had one of the worst nights of us all. Pinned down with a strange unit not knowing anyone. Your sacrifice can never be fully appreciated. I was there and my hat is off to you. May God watch over you as you fully deserve it.
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POSTED ON 2.22.1999
POSTED BY: CLAY MARSTON

"HIS BRAVERY AND DETERMINATION IN THE FACE OF OVERWHELMING ODDS ARE IN KEEPING WITH THE HIGHEST STANDARDS AND TRADITIONS OF THE AMERICAN FIGHTING MAN UNDER ATTACK"

By April 1966, 21-year-old

AIRMAN FIRST CLASS

WILLIAM HART PITSENBARGER

then approaching the finals months of his enlistment, had seen more action
than most 30-year veterans. He had gone through long and arduous training
for duty as a pararescue medic with the AEROSPACE RESCUE and RECOVERY
SERVICE and had completed more than 300 rescue missions in Vietnam,
many of them under heavy enemy fire. He already was the recipient of
the AIR MEDAL with 5 OAK LEAF CLUSTERS, with recommendations for
another four pending. Just a few days earlier, he had ridden a chopper winch line into a minefield to save a wounded ARVN soldier.

His service with ARRS convinced him that he wanted a career as a medical
technician. He had applied to ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY for admission in
the Fall, but that was months away. He had a job to do in Vietnam now, and
as rescue pilot CAPTAIN DALE POTTER said, "Pitsenbarger was always willing
to get into the thick of the action where he could be the most help".

On April 11 at about 1500 hrs, while he was off duty, a call for help came in to
his unit,
Detachment 6
38TH AEROSPACE RESCUE AND RECOVERY SQUADRON
at Bien Hoa. Elements of the 1st INFANTRY DIVISION were surrounded by
enemy forces near Cam My, a few miles east of Saigon, in thick jungle with
the tree canopies rising up to 150 feet. The only way to get the wounded out
was with hoist-equipped helicopters. Pitsenbarger asked to go with one of
the two HH43 ' HUSKIE ' helicopters scrambled on this hazardous mission.

Half an hour later, both choppers found an area where they could hover and
lower a winch line to the surrounded troops. Pitsenbarger volunteered to go
down the line, administer emergency treatment to the most seriously
wounded, and show how to use the Stokes litter that would hoist casualties
up to the helicopters.

It was standard procedure for a pararescue medic to stay down only long
to organize the rescue effort. He decided, on his own, to remain with the
wounded. In the next hour and a half, the HH43s came back in five times,
evacuating nine wounded soldiers. On the sixth attempt Pitsenbarger's
HUSKIE was hit hard, forced to cut the hoist line and pull out for the nearest
strip to make an emergency landing. Intense enemy fire and friendly
artillery, called in by the ARMY made it impossible for the second chopper
to return. Heavy automatic weapons and mortar fire was coming in on the
ARMY defenders from all sides while Pitsenbarger continued to care for the
wounded. In case one of the HUSKIEs made it in again, he climbed the tree
to recover the Stokes litter that his pilot had jettisoned. When the Company
' C ' commander, the unit Pitsenbarger was with, decided to move his men
to another area, he then cut saplings to make stretchers for those men so
badly wounded that they could not walk. As they started to move out the
company was attacked and overrun by the larger enemy formation.

By this time, the few ARMY troops able to return fire were running out of
ammunition. Pitsenbarger gave his pistol to a soldier who was now unable
to hold a rifle. With complete disregard for his own safety, he scrambled
around the defended area, collecting rifles and ammunition from the dead
and distributing them to those men still able to fight.

It had been about two hours since the HH43s had been driven off.

Pitsenbarger had now done all he could to treat the wounded, prepare for
a retreat to safer ground, and rearm his ARMY comrades. He then gathered
several magazines of ammunition, lay down beside wounded ARMY SGT.
FRED NAVARRO, one of the ' C ' Company survivors who later described
Pitsenbarger's heroic actions, and began firing at the enemy. Fifteen
minutes later as an eerie darkness fell beneath the triple-canopy jungle,
he was hit by enemy fire and mortally wounded.

The next morning, when ARMY reinforcements reached the survivors, a
helicopter crew brought Pitsenbarger's body out of the jungle.

Of the 180 men with whom he fought his last battle, only 14 were uninjured.


For his actions during his time on the ground

WILLIAM HART PITSENBARGER

became the first airman to be awarded the

AIR FORCE CROSS.


THE WILLIAM HART PITSENBARGER AWARD FOR HEROISM

an annual award for valor, is presented in his honor by the

UNITED STATES AIR FORCE SERGEANTS ASSOCIATION.


The ARRS is legendary for its heroism in peace and war.

No one better exemplified its motto

" THAT OTHERS MAY LIVE "


He descended voluntarily into the hell of a jungle firefight
with valor as his only shield and valor was his epitaph.



THE PROUD YOUNG VALOR THAT ROSE ABOVE THE MORTAL
AND THEN, AT LAST, WAS MORTAL AFTER ALL



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