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370px-Medalsofhonor2 (2)WASHINGTON The nation's latest Medal of Honor recipient was inducted into the Pentagon's Hall of Heroes during a ceremony here today.
Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Roy welcomed the brother, sons, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Richard L. Etchberger, who was posthumously awarded the medal during a White House ceremony yesterday, to today's event.Adding Etchberger's name to the Hall of Heroes, where the names of all Medal of Honor recipients are inscribed, marks two firsts, Roy said.Etchberger is the first combat support airman and the first servicemember in the top enlisted grade to receive the Medal of Honor."Since Congress created the E-8 and E-9 pay grades in 1958, no other E-9, in any of our military services, has ever been awarded the Medal of Honor," Roy said. "Chief Etchberger is the first." Roy summarized the 1968 events for which Etchberger received the nation's highest award for military valor 42 years later. While he was serving as a ground radar superintendent for a secret installation in Laos as part of a covert CIA-Air Force operation, Etchberger and his unit came under attack. With two of his four-member crew dead and the two others injured, Etchberger single-handedly held off the enemy from the men's precarious perch on a cliffside ledge while calling for air strikes and air rescue throughout the night. The next morning, a rescue helicopter arrived. Etchberger braved heavy enemy fire to load his wounded compatriots and another surviving airman into slings dangling from a rescue helicopter. As the helicopter prepared to leave, Etchberger was shot, and he died while in flight. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz said Etchberger's legend will inspire generations of airmen. "Valor has no expiration date," he said. "Courage is timeless. And the discovery of truth, no matter how long it is delayed, sets the record straight." Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley also spoke at the ceremony, emphasizing Etchberger's significance representing Vietnam veterans. "To a younger generation, Vietnam is a faraway place indeed, present only in the history books, old movies and photographs, and through the stories of aging veterans," Donley said. "But for his family, and for our nation, for the Air Force he loved and served, for generations of airmen yet to come, Chief Etchberger's story will never fade in our memory," he continued. "Once lost beneath impenetrable layers of security, the story of Lima Site 85 -- Dick Etchberger's example of integrity, service and excellence [and] of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty -- is assured of its future." Cory Etchberger, the chief's youngest son, shared memories of his father as they'd been related to him by his father's fellow airmen. He was 9 when his father died, he said, and his own memories are "few, fuzzy and fleeting." But a series of commanding officers the chief served with, he said, characterized his father in his annual evaluations as "a born leader," "bursting with enthusiasm he gets the job done while he's still talking about it," and "the top [noncommissioned officer] in the United States Air Force." "Ladies and gentlemen here today, and especially the fine young airmen and women who now serve, or who have served, in our great Air Force: I hope this has given you a better idea of who Chief Master Sgt. Richard Etchberger was, from the perspective of the people who knew him best," Etchberger's son said. "At Amherst College in 1963," he continued, "President John F. Kennedy said the following: ‘A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces, but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers.' To everybody here, thank you so much from the entire Etchberger family for honoring, and remembering." Sept. 22, 2010: By Karen Parrish- American Forces Press Service Article Redistributed by Support Our Troops Redistributed by
[caption id="attachment_3410" align="alignleft" width="320"]VeteranRecallsBattle09222010 Retired Air Force Tech. Sgt. John Daniel reflects on the 1968 battle at Lima Site 85 in Laos that resulted in the posthumous award of the Medal of Honor to Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Richard Etchberger. Daniel was one of the airmen saved by Etchberger during the battle. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. David Byron[/caption] WASHINGTON In 1968, a battle raged where heroes arose only to be unacknowledged for 18 years. Proper recognition occurred during a White House ceremony Sept. 21 when Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Richard Etchberger was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor after saving three of his men in a battle that failed to make headlines at the time due to its then-highly classified nature.
Retired Air Force Tech. Sgt. John Daniel was one of the airmen Etchberger saved during the battle at the Lima 85 radar site.The mission, named Heavy Green, was to provide radar information and assistance to U.S. aircraft bombing military targets in Hanoi, Vietnam, its surrounding areas and along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The radar site, located on a hilltop in Laos, was not officially acknowledged until 1986 because Laos was considered a neutral country during the Vietnam War, despite U.S. and North Vietnamese forces often operating there.Daniel said that although the mission was to guide bombers on long-range strikes, as time went on the radar crews were forced to direct an increasing number of bombing runs closer to their own location. The North Vietnamese army had discovered the site's location and made a concerted push, including building roads to bring in heavy artillery, to launch attacks against the site. On the evening of March 10, 1968, the radar crew experienced a lull in guiding bomber missions and decided to take a dinner break. Daniel had the additional duty as cook for his shift. "I asked them what they wanted for dinner, and they all said steaks, so we went down to the barbecue pit and fired up the grill," he said. "We hadn't started cooking yet, and [Air Force Lt. Col.] Bill Blanton came up and said, 'Fellows, we need to have a little get-together up in the equipment.'" Blanton told the team that the North Vietnamese army had surrounded them and the situation looked dire, Daniel said. While calling in evacuation helicopters was a possibility, that option was rapidly disappearing as darkness approached. A flight out the following morning would be more likely. "We took a straw poll of everybody that was there," Daniel said. "We decided to just go ahead and drop bombs all night, and in the morning, detonate all the equipment and get out on choppers at first light." As it turned out, they didn't have as much time as they'd thought. During the meeting, the North Vietnamese army began its attack. The first artillery round hit the barbecue shack. "It was a good thing we were at that meeting and not having dinner," Daniel said. The radar team split into two crews. One team would pull the first shift manning the equipment, the other would return to the sleeping quarters, rest and prepare to relieve the first team. The sleeping quarters and bunker were located next to the barbecue shack. "I said I wasn't going to stay in quarters or the bunker," Daniel said. "They already hit there and had the range down on that. I said we should go down over the side of the hill, where we went to write letters. Nobody would find us down there." On one side of the hill was a ledge where the airmen often sat to compose letters or tapes to send home. It was 10 to 15 feet below the top of the hill, with a nearly 3,000-foot straight drop below. The five-man crew decided to take cover there. The five airmen started hearing small-arms fire and grenades going off on the hilltop, Daniel said. "Shortly thereafter," he added, "someone caught a glimpse of us and started emptying their rifles at us." In the first volley of gunfire, two members of the team were hit, one fatally. The crew returned fire with their M-16s. After the next exchange, two were dead and two others had been wounded. Etchberger was the only one not wounded. During lulls in the gun battle, the enemy began tossing grenades down on the ledge. "If I could reach them, I'd pick them up and throw them back on top of the hill," Daniel said. "If I couldn't reach them, I'd take the butt of my rifle and kick them off over the edge of the mountain." When one grenade landed outside both his own reach and the reach of his rifle, Daniel said, he rolled the dead body of a comrade over on top of it. Roughly 15 yards separated Daniel and Etchberger. Daniel had a radio near him, and as the attack continued, the chief directed him to call in an air strike on the top of the hill. Throughout the night, a succession of aircraft unloaded their ordnance, both bombs and bullets, on the hill. At daylight, three members of the team still survived on the ledge. An Air America helicopter spotted them and hovered, lowering a sling. Etchberger broke cover, exposing himself to the enemy, and closed the gap between himself and his wounded colleagues. "[Etchberger] scooted me on over and got me on that sling," Daniel said. "After I was up, he got [Capt. Stan Sliz] up on the sling." After the two survivors were aboard the helicopter, the chief began to secure himself to the sling. Before he could go up, Staff Sgt. Bill Husband, who had been playing dead atop the hill, dashed to the ledge. The chief locked arms with him, and they rode the sling together and boarded the helicopter. As the helicopter began to climb, a North Vietnamese soldier emptied his weapon into the underside of the aircraft. Etchberger was mortally wounded and died during the evacuation flight. "[Etchberger] was one hell of an NCO," Daniel said. "He knew the equipment. He knew how to handle people. He knew what to do and how to do it. You were eager to follow the man, to do what he wanted you to do." The Heavy Green mission began with volunteers, briefings and sworn statements of secrecy at the Pentagon in 1967. For those involved, the White House Medal of Honor presentation and the Pentagon Hall of Heroes induction ceremony today will provide closure to the mission. "It's only fitting," Daniel said, "that we're back in the Pentagon to finish it up and put an end to it, right where it started, 43 years ago." Sept. 22, 2010: By Air Force Senior Master Sgt. David Byron-Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs
[caption id="attachment_3437" align="alignleft" width="300"]WoundedTroopsChallenge09142010 Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Joshua Wege and Army Pvt. Harrison Ruzicka race past a cheering Corps of Cadets crowd as they make their way through the indoor obstacle course test at Arvin Gymnasium at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, N.Y., Sept. 10, 2010. U.S. Army photo by John Pellino[/caption] WEST POINT, N.Y. They run road races and compete in triathlons. They climb mountains, kayak through rapids and ski on snow and water.
They are America's wounded warriors -- veterans who continue to inspire by their resilience and will to overcome any obstacle placed before them.Six Army soldiers and one Marine from Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., visited the U.S. Military Academy here Sept. 10 to test their abilities on a challenging set of obstacles. The indoor obstacle course test is a rite of passage for all West Point cadets as a testament to their physical fortitude. Being able to make it through this intense test of balance, strength and stamina is hard enough, given months of practice and training. But for the wounded warriors, with only hours of preparation, the test was an inspirational example of the Warrior Ethos and human perseverance, said Army Col. Gregory L. Daniels, the chief of the academy's physical education department.
[caption id="attachment_3438" align="alignleft" width="149"]4WoundedTroopsChallenge09142010 Army Sgt. Robert Brown, a Paralympics athlete, takes on the indoor obstacle course test at Arvin Gymnasium at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, N.Y., Sept. 10, 2010. Brown, who has continued on active duty, earned three medals at the 2010 Warrior Games in June. He lost his right leg to sniper fire while on patrol near Ramadi, Iraq, in 2006, and returned to Iraq in 2009 as part of Operation Proper Exit. U.S. Army photo by Mike Strasser[/caption] [caption id="attachment_3439" align="alignleft" width="149"]2WoundedTroopsChallenge09142010 Army Spc. Nicholas Edinger takes on the indoor obstacle course test at Arvin Gymnasium at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, N.Y., Sept. 10, 2010. Edinger lost his leg in June 2009 when he stepped on a roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan. U.S. Army photo by Mike Strasser[/caption] "These outstanding soldiers are a testament to the amazing power of the human spirit," Daniels said of the wounded warriors. "They make no excuses for their so-called disabilities, and they drive on with an indomitable grit that is truly remarkable. Every single cadet should take notice and emulate their invincible spirit." For that reason, Daniels made sure cadets were present for this event. Hayes Gymnasium roared with the encouraging cheers of cadets as the wounded warriors moved through the timed course. "I wanted the cadets to cheer them on with all their might and to be inspired by what they observed," Daniels said. "These soldiers demonstrated the Warrior Ethos in a very unique and powerful way. I wanted as many cadets as possible to see first-hand the type of young person they will eventually have the immense responsibility and awesome privilege to lead." Cadets lined up to congratulate and speak with the group after the test. Cadet Brittany O'Connell said she left with a lump in her throat from what she'd witnessed. "It made me realize that even with things as hectic as they are here, your problems may not be as big as you think they are," she said. "It was truly amazing." When Daniels told the cadets to remember this event the next time they complained about something being too hard, Cadet Tom Snukis took it to heart. "It was definitely inspiring, because you see cadets struggle through this every day," said Snukis, who will take the course for score in October. "Then to come out here and see soldiers missing arms and legs, and they destroyed the [course]. 'Inspiring' is definitely the word." As the sole Marine and only double amputee in the group, Lance Cpl. Joshua Wege said he had even more to prove than his colleagues. He was not expecting such a large audience, he said, but it fueled his performance with an added dose of adrenaline. "The entire bleachers were filled, and just the sound reverberating off the walls was cool," Wege said. "I've never had crowds cheer me before. I was nervous at the starting line, which I don't get very often, but with everyone watching and the blood pumping, I wanted to do the best I could."
3WoundedTroopsChallenge09142010Army Spc. Matthew Kinsey said the group of wounded warriors is pretty close-knit, and it was evident in the way, as professional soldiers, they supported each other. They'd been practicing for a few weeks on a smaller course at Walter Reed, Kinsey said, but the West Point course was exhausting."At half-speed, the individual obstacles are not bad, but when you go through everything at once, that's a challenge," Kinsey said. Along with Wege and Kinsey, Army Sgt. Robert Brown, Army Pvt. Harrison Ruzicka, Army Spc. Joshua Rector, Army Spc. Nicholas Edinger and Army Sgt. Shane Baldwin also participated. Sept. 14, 2010: By Mike Strasser- U.S. Military Academy
FoldedFlagDOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. A day off is a cherished and holy time when you are deployed to the Air Force Mortuary Operations Center here.
Every military death overseas, from Alpha to Omega, comes through this mortuary. A new part of the mortuary mission, added a couple of years ago, is having families invited to see the arrival of their fallen loved one come home to U.S soil.My primary duty as a chaplain here at the mortuary is working with the grief-shocked families when they watch the dignified transfer, but sometimes I'm with the fallen as I help move gurneys and work with the people working with the fallen servicemembers.As a laborer in this casualty vineyard, you can't help but have images of grief and death come tripping through your mind in stocking feet. Seeing the dead and their families is a reality for me. To compensate and change your brain when that offered day off comes, you find a diversion away from the base. My diversion on my day off is soaking up American history. Like a pig in mud, I'm deployed to the center of the homeland of American history. Within a two-hour drive from Dover AFB, everywhere you go there is a historical site from the Revolutionary or Civil wars. If the church sign out front says "first" in its title, it may have really been the very first Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, Quaker or other church in the original colonies. The first great thoughts and spoken words of our democracy are littered on every corner of the combined states of Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia. After my lunch at the City Tavern, I saw the masts of a tall ship on the waterfront. It was time to keep exploring history by foot. In my walk to the pier, I found the Korean War memorial. A wonderful series of dark panels with pictures of the war etched into its marble. As I came to the site facing the river, there was an old man wearing a Korean War veteran ball cap. He was alone and in tears. This is where the chaplain, instead of the historian, took over. I inquired of my tear-filled soldier: "You were there weren't you." My vet nodded and pointed to the carved letters on the marble that read: "7th Infantry." I heard of the Battle of Inchon, and how he had been wounded. I listened deeply as he told me of holding a comrade who was dying as they were surrounded by the Chinese. Again he was wounded, but had escaped capture with the others from his unit. He looked up at me and said, "My brother fought in World War II and told me I would never get it out of my head, and he was right." I saw the dead comrades he told me about in my mind, for I had just seen them recently in body bags from Afghanistan and Iraq. He looked at my head and eyeballed my recent haircut. "You're military, you understand, don't you?" he said. I nodded, and told him I was a deployed chaplain at Dover AFB's mortuary. Like a child wanting a hug, his arms reached out, and we held onto one another, reaching across the decades. Two wars, memories dropping like falling leaves building a foundation of understanding and healing. To place my story into a simple theology, even when we are not expecting it, God places us where we are needed. We can embrace the moment and find the holy in stories, and care for one another, or we can walk on, to the waterfront where stuff just floats by. The joy of finding the holy moment when we are sent is that we don't forget the real sacrifice. Sept. 14, 2010: By Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Richard Cavens-Alaska Air National Guard Article Redistributed by Support Our Troops Redistributed by
We are proud to announce that as of September 2010 we have given over $632,471 worth of bulk goods for care packages through our new Support Our Troops®Care Goods Grant Program to various troop-support groups around America to include in their care packages which they send to the troops.
EarthWASHINGTON Defense Department officials plan to reduce the military's water and fossil fuels consumption by more than 20 percent in the next decade under an Obama administration plan to make government agencies better stewards of the environment.
The department's priorities for this year and next are to invest in fixed installations, enhance buildings and ensure sustainability concepts in doctrine and policy, Ashton B. Carter, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, wrote in the department's portion of the Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan. White House officials released the plan Sept. 9. It includes a roadmap submitted from each department outlining how they will reduce their impact on the environment while meeting mission goals. The plan is the result of an executive order by President Barack Obama.The department's goals are in line with the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review, which highlighted for the first time the importance of having a strategic approach to climate change and energy. "Our military's heavy reliance on fossil fuels creates significant risks and costs at a tactical, as well as a strategic level," Carter wrote in the plan. "We measure these costs in lost dollars, in reduced mission effectiveness, and in U.S. soldiers' lives. Freeing warfighters from the tether of fuel will significantly improve our mission effectiveness, as will reducing our installations' dependence on costly fossil fuels and a potentially fragile power grid." The Defense Department's eight overarching goals include: -- Reducing the use of fossil fuels in facilities and vehicles while using renewable sources of energy; -- Improving water management; -- Further reducing greenhouse gas emissions to a 34 percent reduction since fiscal 2008; -- Curbing greenhouse gases further through contracted landfill disposal, increased teleworking and less air travel; -- Reducing and better managing solid waste, such as by using less paper; -- Minimizing chemicals released into the environment through better electronics disposal and pesticide applications; -- Promoting sustainability as the norm in procurements and buildings; and -- Building sustainability into management systems, and with coordination with local and regional planning boards. The goals apply to all of the department's mission and program areas, with the objective of incorporating sustainability principles into daily operations, officials said. Making such changes will improve mission effectiveness while enhancing the environment, said Shannon Cunniff, the department's director of chemical and material risk management. She added that implementation will be challenging. "Implementing the plan won't be easy, but it will be rewarding," she said. "We'll lower our vulnerabilities associated with reliance on fossil fuels and a fragile power grid, and preserve other assets critical to our readiness and training and, over the long run, we'll save money by doing so. It's a win-win-win [situation]." The department has been recognized in recent years as a leader in environmental sustainability, and Cunniff said she expects that to continue under the new plan. The department, "has the innovative spirit and creativity, as well as the mission benefits, to drive successful implementation of the plan," she said. "I'll bet that [the Defense Department] can and will lead the nation in making smart investments that protect assets for current and future generations to enjoy and use," she added. The federal government occupies nearly 500,000 buildings, operates more than 600,000 vehicles, employs more than 1.8 million civilians, and purchases more than $500 billion per year in goods and services. As the single-largest energy consumer in the U.S. economy, the federal government spent more than $24.5 billion on electricity and fuel in 2008 alone, according to a White House news release. Executive Order 13514, issued Oct. 5, 2009, requires agencies to set a 2020 greenhouse gas emissions reduction target, increase energy efficiency, reduce fleet petroleum consumption, conserve water, reduce waste, support sustainable communities, and leverage federal purchasing power to promote environmentally responsible products and technologies. To promote accountability, annual progress will be measured by the Office of Management and Budget and be reported online to the public. Sept. 13, 2010: By Lisa Daniel- American Forces Press Service Article Redistributed by Support Our Troops Redistributed by