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Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base in Montgomery County, Alabama — The American South (East South Central)
 

Award of Air Force Cross to William H. Pitsenbarger

 
 
Award of Air Force Cross to William H. Pitsenbarger Marker image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, June 23, 2016
1. Award of Air Force Cross to William H. Pitsenbarger Marker
Inscription.
Citation to Accompany the Award of
The Air Force Cross
to

William H. Pitsenbarger

Airman First Class William H. Pitsenbarger distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force near Cam My, Republic of Vietnam, on 11 April 1966. On that date, Airman Pitsenbarger was a Rescue and Survival Specialist aboard a helicopter engaged in the evacuation of American casualties in a dense jungle. With complete disregard for personal safety, Airman Pitsenbarger voluntarily rode a rescue hoist more than one hundred feet to the ground and organized and coordinated rescue efforts at the scene. During the rescue operation, he cared for and prepared the casualties for evacuation and ensured the recovery operation continued in a smooth and orderly fashion. Following the recovery of the ninth casualty the rescue aircraft hovering overhead was damaged and disabled by automatic weapons fire. The helicopter was forced to abandon recovery efforts to make an emergency landing at a nearby airstrip. Airman Pitsenbarger volunteered to remain on the ground and administer medical treatment to the wounded. Shortly after rescue efforts were interrupted, the area came under sniper and mortar fire, Airman Pitsenbarger repeatedly
Wide view of AF Cross memorial plaques. image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, June 23, 2016
2. Wide view of AF Cross memorial plaques.
exposed himself to intensive automatic fire while gathering rifles and ammunition from fallen comrades which he passed among the defenders. His bravery and determination in the face of overwhelming odds are in keeping with the highest standards of performance and traditions of the American fighting man under attack. The extraordinary heroism and aggressiveness of Airman Pitsenbarger reflect the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.
 
Erected 2004 by Maxwell-Gunter AFSNCOA Class 04-C.
 
Location. 32° 24.253′ N, 86° 14.965′ W. Marker is in Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base, Alabama, in Montgomery County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of McDonald Street and Avenue D. Click for map. Located at the USAF Senior NCO Academy on Gunter AFB and requires base access. Marker is at or near this postal address: 550 McDonald Street, Montgomery AL 36114, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Award of Air Force Cross to Russell M. Hunt (here, next to this marker); Award of Air Force Cross to Duane D. Hackney (here, next to this marker); Award of Air Force Cross to William A. Robinson (here, next to this marker); Award of Air Force Cross to Arthur N. Black
William H. Pitsenbarger image. Click for full size.
By USAF Photo
3. William H. Pitsenbarger
(here, next to this marker); Award of Air Force Cross to Eugene L. Clay (here, next to this marker); Award of Air Force Cross to Larry W. Maysey (here, next to this marker); Award of Air Force Cross to Dennis M. Richardson (a few steps from this marker); Award of Air Force Cross to Richard L. Etchberger (a few steps from this marker). Click for a list of all markers in Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base.
 
Regarding Award of Air Force Cross to William H. Pitsenbarger. On April 11, 1966, near Cam My, South Vietnam, A1C William H. Pitsenbarger, 38th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron pararescue jumper, sacrificed his life to save nine others. While evacuating American casualties during a firefight in a jungle area, he descended from the HH-43 Huskie to assist in rescue efforts. He treated the wounded and transferred three to the Huskie but stayed on the ground, waiting to send more troops to a second chopper. As the first Huskie returned, the fighting intensified, and the rescue chopper took many hits and began losing power. The rescue pilot signaled for Pitsenbarger to grab the hoist, but the PJ waved him off. Pitsenbarger
AF Cross exhibit located at nearby Enlisted Heritage Hall. image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, June 29, 2016
4. AF Cross exhibit located at nearby Enlisted Heritage Hall.
continued to treat the wounded, collected ammunition to distribute to those who could use it, and helped fight off the enemy. When his body was found the next day, rescuers saw that he had been shot repeatedly. The Air Force Sergeants Association has established the William H. Pitsenbarger Award for Heroism, awarded annually to recognize heroism among enlisted airmen.

He was initially posthumously awarded the Air Force Cross, which was later upgraded to the Medal of Honor. He was the first enlisted recipient of the Air Force Cross medal, receiving the award in 1966. On December 8, 2000, his father and his wife accepted the Medal of Honor from Secretary of the Air Force. During the same ceremony he was also posthumously promoted to the rank of Staff Sergeant.

The United States Navy Container Ship MV A1C William H. Pitsenbarger (T-AK 4638) was christened in his honor. The ship will preposition Air Force ammunition at sea near potential war or contingency sites.
 
Also see . . .
1. Wikipedia article on William H. Pitsenbarger. (Submitted on June 29, 2016, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.)
2. Pitsenbarger's memorial page on The Virtual Wall. (Submitted on June 29, 2016, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.)
 
Categories. Air & SpaceHeroesWar, Vietnam
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 201 times since then and 42 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on , by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page was last revised on June 30, 2016.
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