President Barack Obama will award a Medal of Honor to a U.S. Air Force noncommissioned officer who died in combat while saving comrades in Laos in 1968, the White House announced.
Chief Master Sergeant Richard L. Etchberger displayed "immeasurable courage and uncommon valor" as he deliberately put himself in the line of enemy fire to help three wounded servicemen get into rescue slings on March 11, 1968, the White House said.
As Chief Etchberger was finally being rescued himself, he was hit by ground fire and died.
His sons Cory Etchberger, Richard Etchberger. and Steve Wilson will join President Obama at the White House on September 21 to commemorate their father's service.
The U.S. Medal of Honor is awarded to members of the military who go above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States; or engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.
"The meritorious conduct must involve great personal bravery or self-sacrifice so conspicuous as to clearly distinguish the individual above his or her comrades and must have involved risk of life," the White House said.
ETCHBERGER'S BACKGROUND, as released by the White House
Richard (Dick) L. Etchberger served in the United States Air Force from 1951 ’ 1968. Born in Hamburg, Pennsylvania, on March 5, 1933, he was inspired to join the military due to his brother Bob enlisting in the Navy in early 1946. Upon joining the USAF on August 31, 1951, he proved to have a high aptitude in electronics and began long list of training and assignments that he would undergo to become a master in his career field. On April 1, 1967, he was promoted to Chief Master Sergeant. He held assignments in Mississippi, Utah, Morocco, North Dakota, Philippines, Illinois and the Republic of Vietnam.