This post is the one-hundred and twentith entry for this meme suggested by Sheila@ One Persons Journey Through A World of Books. [Entries 22-25 in the series were posted at the Dr. Bill Tells Ancestor Stories]
This is the book about the Medal of Honor winner that I shared on my family history blog here:
My wife ordered the book from Amazon, both in hard copy and for our Kindles. The next day, Cory, the son, as part of an ongoing email exchange with me, noted that he had ‘gotten our order, and was sending it with a special gift.’ I realized later that the book was coming from the Foundation the family had set up and Cory was doing the mailing, himself, on behalf of the foundation, as part of that work (http://www.chiefetchbergerfoundation.org/). The ‘special gift’ that came along with the hard copy book was a numbered Foundation Challenge Coin (http://www.chiefetchbergerfoundation.org/support-the-foundation.html). In addition, there was a special inscription in the book, signed by Cory. Further, each copy of the book was also signed by the author, and by the two men CMSGT Etchberger saved as they evacuated Lima Site 85-Laos, just before he was killed during the escape. One of those men, Stan, was also on the other side of me, the tall one, in the RBS Express photo. He died a few years ago, but obviously signed the books prior to that time.
A very special book, very special people, and now, additional special memories.
Book Description from Amazon:
The remarkable true story of a career GI’s leading role in a secret radar mission, the resolve he demonstrates during an attack on his mountaintop camp—-and the 42-year quest for America to recognize his actions.
In 1967, after 16 years in uniform, Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Dick Etchberger is starting to make plans for a post-military life when he is invited to participate in a clandestine Vietnam War mission. There’s a catch, though: he must accept the assignment before he’s told of the location. Etchberger quickly agrees to this condition and is sent to Southeast Asia with two dozen other Air Force technicians to run a secret radar site atop a remote peak.
Posing as civilian contract workers, the men use an early computer to direct pilots to hit targets with greater accuracy regardless of visibility. Their operation, Project Heavy Green, has the blessing of the highest levels of Washington, D.C., as President Lyndon B. Johnson hopes improved bombing results will coax North Vietnam to negotiate an end to the war.
The mission is initially successful, though the team’s presence on the mountain is known almost immediately. The enemy soon launches a bizarre aerial assault on the camp. It is largely ineffective. A later ground attack, however, is not and results in the Air Force’s greatest loss of ground personnel in the war. Etchberger’s actions lead to the survival of three men, but not his own.
With eyewitnesses to Etchberger’s courage, why did it take four decades for the U.S. to recognize him with the nation’s highest award for military valor? Because they took place in Laos, a country officially neutral toward the neighboring war and off-limits to outside forces. Presenting him the Medal of Honor was impossible as it would have exposed U.S. presence there. It would take decades—and an improbable pathway—to reach this objective.
So begins the second phase of this remarkable story.
Dr. Bill ;-)