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MEMORIAL

A Fallen Brother

 

Airman First Class William F. Pitsenbarger a U.S. Air Force Pararescue Medic killed in action on April eleventh nineteen hundred and sixty six, in the Country of South Vietnam, Province Cam My, Region Three. Etched In Stone Panel 06E Line 102 The Wall

 

Airman Pitsenberger was born in Piqua, Ohio on July eighth, nineteen hundred and forty four, he was destined to become a special person, joining the Air Force right after graduation from Piqua Central High School in nineteen hundred and sixty two. Bill Pitsenbergar, was trained to be a Pararescue Medic, with Commando training,(known as a "PJ") much like a Navy Corpsman. He was proud of his job and showed his zeal for plunging himself into imminent danger during fire fights and many rescue attempts, he flew 300 missions and successfully saved countless lives on the battlefield while under heavy gunfire. At times Bill was called upon to engage the enemy during ferocious fighting being in situations where he had to help in putting the enemy down, even during times when outnumbered. April 11 1966 at 1300 hrs. While off duty a call came in. Detachment 6, 38th ARR Squadron at Bien Hoa. Elements of the Army's 1st Infantry Division were surrounded by enemy forces near Cam My Region 3, in thick jungle, tree canopies as high as 150 feet. Pitsenbergar volunteered to go on the hazardous mission.

Thirty minutes later the casualties on the ground were mounting so quickly Pitsenbergar found himself riding the wench line down to the ground. He had Volunteered again because he felt he could be more useful on the ground expeditiously treating the most seriously wounded. Over the next hour and a half, the HH-43 helicopter had returned five times while Pitsenbergar successfully evacuated nine wounded soldiers. During the sixth attempt, heavy automatic weapons and mortar fire started raining on the area. The commander of C Company the unit Pitsenbergar was with decided to move to another area and was attacked and was overrun by a large enemy formation. Some of the Army troops were running out of ammunition. Pitsenbergar gave his pistol to a wounded soldier who was unable to hold a rifle. With complete disregard for his own safety he collected rifles and ammunition from other dead soldiers and distributed to the men still able to fight.

Pitsenbergar himself wounded three times continued treating the wounded and to rearm his Army comrades. He gathered several magazines of ammunition and a rifle and laydown beside wounded Army Sgt. Fred Navarro, one of C Company survivors. He began firing at the enemy, as darkness begain to fall beneath the Canopy of the Jungle, Pitsenbergar was hit again, this time mortally wounded.
Pitsenbarger was the first airman awarded the Air Force Cross posthumously for valor and honor.
On December eighth, year two thousand, some 34 years later at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, Airman 1st Class Pitsenbergar was awarded the Military's highest award, posthumously, the Medal of Honor. The award was accepted by his father, William F Pitsenbergar as his wife Alice at his side. This was only the second time an enlisted man from the Air Force ever received the Medal of Honor. Pitsenbergar was also promoted posthumously to the rank of Staff Sergeant. Secretary of the Air Force Whit Peters presented the award.

EPILOGUE
This brave medic was not known by me, however he is a brother to all Medics and Corpsmen everywhere. Making a trip to the "Wall" this past week I looked up Staff Sergeant William H. Pitsenbarger on panel 06E Line 102. The night was cold near "0" Deg. Kneeling in front of the panel I placed my hand on his name saying a silent prayer. I also said thank you Bill, for being there for your brothers and displaying such honor and valor above and beyond the call of duty, you are a credit to yourself and to your fellowman and to your country, you became their angel and comforted them during their time of desperate need. Even though the night air was cold the "Wall" reflected the lights surrounding the great shining black mass of humanity, I could feel the warmth of his soul, tears begain to fill my eyes I knelt there for what seemed like a lifetime, memories of combat flashing through my mind and the horrors of war no one can ever know unless one has been part of it, seeing the mangled torn and twisted bodies, the blood, the smell of death and cordite, the stillness of the after battle with quietness broken only with the wounded crying out in pain and fear, the sorrows of broken hearts to come, the trembling that begins in oneself, the disbelief of it all and the strength sapped out of your body. Removing my hand from the wall and standing up looking up into the dark sky it seemed like 52,000 plus very bright stars twinkled in the sky reminding me of all the names on the "Wall" I ask, why God, why did this happen, Is there not another way for man to settle his differences could this not have been averted? So many young men and women who gave their all, they will never grow old, they will never see their families again only in the end, they will never marry , have children to play and laugh with they will never see another Spring.
"They Will Be Forever Young"

I turned and walked the walk along the wall back and forth, like a sentry, looking over the names on each panel. As I came to William H. Pitsenbarger's panel, I stopped and placed my hand on his name again, as I started to say something to him, a thought crossed my mind.

"It said... Do not worry about us Doc, we are at peace now and it is beautiful beyond description behind this wall. We come here to visit everyday, to help everyone overcome their grief for us. Like our Fathers before us, this is our destiny, it is over now, however try to understand we are at peace, even though we miss our loved ones very much, there will come a day when we will all be together again, in this most beautiful place."

As I began to speak out softly to Bill, the tears again begain to fill my eyes and once again I felt the sadness of it all, I spoke out saying, "We Will Remember" Bill, "We Will Remember".

Epilogue contributed by:
Thomas Graham Williams, Vietnam Veteran, U.S. Navy Corpsman 59 -62

 

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Linda Turner Lin~Mar Publishing©2000