Vietnam Vet Receives Medal of Honor Posthumously

Bravery in Laos was a secret for decades
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 21, 2010 3:53 PM CDT
A 1968 Air Force photo, via the Reading Eagle, of Sgt. Richard L. Etchberger in Vietnam.   (AP Photo/USAF, Reading Eagle)
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(Newser) – President Obama awarded a posthumous Medal of Honor today for an act of bravery the military had covered up for decades. Chief Master Sgt. Richard Etchberger was killed while helping three wounded comrades onto an evacuation helicopter during an attack on a US outpost in Laos. But for years, the event was kept under wraps because the US was not officially supposed to be in Laos, USA Today explains.

Obama presented the medal to Etchberger’s family today, praising his “conspicuous gallantry,” and noting that the radar technician “had no formal combat training.” Etchberger’s family had been told he died in a helicopter crash, and learned the truth years afterward. “Even though it’s been 42 years, it’s never too late to do the right thing,” Obama said. (Read more Barack Obama stories.)

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