Medal of Honor Bench
Proud to Accept, Care for Medal of Honor Bench
Memorial Day 2020 was a special day as a ceremony was held May 25th at the Veterans National Memorial Shrine & Museum in Fort Wayne to honor Medal of Honor recipient A1C William H. Pitsenbarger. A beautiful granite bench was dedicated in his honor.
The bench has been donated by Lionsgate, distributers of The Last Full Measure, the film inspired by the courageous acts of Vietnam War hero William H. Pitsenbarger on April 11, 1966. Pittsenbarger volunteered to come to the aid of C Company 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry of the 1st Infantry Division which was under attack by Viet Cong about 35 miles east of Saigon.
A1C Pitsenbarger was an Air Force para-rescue and medical specialist who volunteered to descend from a helicopter to help the wounded. After personally assisting over sixty men and saving nine lives, he refused to ascend to the helicopter, Instead, he joined in the fight and ultimately sacrificed his life in one of Vietnam's bloodiest battle.
Of the 134 men on the ground that day, 80% became casualties. One man, Phillip Hall, was in that 80% but survived to tell the story of “Pits” courage. He spoke at the ceremony. In addition some members of Pitsenbarger’s family were there to help dedicate the bench.
Pitsenbarger was awarded the Air Force Cross for his valor. Thirty-five years later, after numerous attempts including statements by Hall and others, he was awarded the Medal of Honor, becoming the first airman to receive the medal since the Air Force was established as a separate service in 1947.
The Veterans National Memorial Shrine & Museum is grateful for this honor. The bench sets by our existing Vietnam Memorial.
The last photo shows Pitsenbarger coming to the aid of a Vietnamese solider after the soldier stepped on a mine only a few weeks before his Medal of Honor actions.