By Mike Ullery
conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of (his) life above
and beyond the call of duty.”
Those words describe the actions taken by
those who are recipients of the Medal of Honor, the highest award for
bravery and service that our country can bestow upon a deserving
When one thinks of a hero, he or she needs to look no
farther than the 3458 men, and one woman, who have earned our nation’s
highest award for bravery — above and beyond the call of duty.
are blessed to be the hometown of one of those truly heroic
individuals. Staff Sgt. William H. Pitsenbarger, a 1962 graduate of
Piqua High School, grew up in Piqua.
After joining the Air Force,
Pitsenbarger volunteered for service as a para-rescue specialist. For
those unfamiliar, a pararescueman knowingly and willingly enters a
combat situation where other soldiers have already been wounded, then
knowingly and willingly enters the combat zone, putting his own life in
danger in order to save others.
During the Vietnam war,
Pitsenbarger and fellow para-rescue men, entered situations where
American troops were under enemy fire, by being lowered into the chaos
and danger from a helicopter hovering above the action.
the case in April of 1966 when Pitsenbarger came to the aid of fallen
soldiers engaged in a firefight near Saigon. After giving aide to the
wounded, Pitsenbarger refused the opportunity to leave the battlefield
and chose to stay to offer assistance to additional wounded.
Piqua native was killed while offering that aide. His body was found
after the battle, a rifle in one hand and a medical kit in the other.
was originally awarded the Air Force Cross, the nation’s second highest
award for valor in combat. In December of 2000, the Medal of Honor was
bestowed upon the fallen hero.
What is puzzling to me, and some others in our city, is the lack of
acknowledgement or at least accurate acknowledgement. Yes, we have a
park named after him. The plaque in the park fails to recognize the
highest tribute our country can give. Only the Ohio Historical Marker at
the Veteran’s Memorial acknowledges that Pitsenbarger was awarded the
Medal of Honor. Is this the best that we can do for him?
A total of 249 Medals of Honor were awarded
during the entire span of the war in Vietnam. There have been only 253
Medals of Honor bestowed on Ohio servicemen in the 151 year history of
the Medal, only 10 of those during the Vietnam War.
Why then, has
one of our service groups or the city, not picked up the guidon and seen
to it that one of Piqua’s — and our nation’s — greatest heroes is
recognized and honored properly by the latest and most accurate
How large of a sacrifice would it be to see that one
of Piqua’s own is duly recognized? What of the sacrifice paid by William
Pitsenbarger … and his family?
Someone is bound to say that cost is a factor. What of the cost paid by Pitsenbarger?
love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his
friends.” (John 15:13) I’m not one to quote Bible verses, but I can
think of nothing more appropriate — or deserving.
Don’t we owe this to a man who gave everything for us?