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NEWS | Feb. 27, 2018

Airman Leadership School unveils Etchberger flight room with ribbon cutting ceremony

By Airman 1st Class Dillon Parker 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

The Joint Base San Antonio Airman Leadership School unveiled the Etchberger flight room with a ribbon cutting ceremony Feb. 21 at the ALS Schoolhouse at Medina Annex. The room will serve as a classroom for ALS students and features a wall memorial honoring Chief Master Sgt. Richard Etchberger, who was posthumously awarded the U.S. Military’s highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions during the Battle of Lima Site 85 in the Vietnam War.

Etchberger and his team of technicians were manning a top-secret defensive position when their base was overrun by an enemy ground force March 11, 1968. Etchberger's entire crew laid dead or severely wounded after having sustained heavy artillery attacks on their position. Despite having received little to no combat training, Etchberger single handedly held off the enemy with an M-16 rifle, while simultaneously directing airstrikes into the area and calling for air rescue.

When the air rescue arrived, Etchberger without hesitation repeatedly and deliberately exposed himself to heavy enemy fire in order to place three surviving wounded comrades into rescue slings hanging from the rescue helicopter.

With his remaining crew safely aboard, Etchberger finally climbed into the evacuation sling himself, only to be fatally wounded by enemy ground fire as he was being raised into the aircraft.