Monday, August 1, 2016

98.3% = Fail

Most of the readers on this blog are familiar with my semi-regular postings on USAF Air Force (and it's antecedents) Medal of Honor Recipients.  They also know that I have focused on the less well known Recipients.  In my opinion, pretty much everyone knows about Rickenbacker, Bong, and Luke.  I felt that if someone from my service was awarded the Nation's highest award for valor, I ought to know who they were and what they did.  I've posted on a dozen or so.  I've also done research on another couple of dozen, but haven't gotten enough data to tell their story well.  Most of the rest have stories that are well known.

So, my point is, I am much more informed about the names on this monument than I was when I started posting.  (I have that slavedriver Sarge, to thank for that!  Content, Juvat, Content! and strawberries! Yes, My Sergeant!)

USAF Medal of Honor Monument, Parade Field Lackland AFB
So,  There I was *.... Just outside Wright-Patterson AFB, Dayton OH, on a cool July day, (it really was cool the high barely got to 80), about to visit the National Museum of the US Air Force for the first time.

We got there early, just after opening at 9AM,  Parking was up close and in the shade of trees near the memorial park.  We walk towards the entrance and are admiring the trees, grass, park benches and such when we see this inviting entry way.
Before anyone has a Fiscal Conniption Fit, those are not actual F-22s on the sticks.
What the heck, it's early, not crowded and cool, let's wander over there and see what there is to see.
Quite recognizably, that is a rendering of the USAF Medal of Honor (the Army and Navy versions are different).  The columns on either side have names of recipients, in chronological order of date of action.  I know there are 60 USAF recipients. 

I start out on the left, reading each one.  Mrs. Juvat is with me and as I get to one I know, I give a short little story about the particular episode of Valor the recipient had given.  There was Goettler and Bleckly, Baker and Jerstad, Mathies and Truemper and Vance.

We switched sides. There was Erwin, Sebille, Pitsenbarger, Wilbanks, Sijan and ....

Wait a minute.  Where is CMSGT Etchberger?  Went back around to see if I'd skipped over him.


Well, that's interesting.  His Medal was only awarded comparatively recently (9/21/2010).  Since the Museum is privately funded, maybe they're raising money to add the name.  I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt. 

Inside the museum in one of the corridors, there are charcoal portraits of the Medal of Honor Recipients.  I cycle through the Vietnam era recipients.  Again, no CMSGT EtchBerger.  It doesn't take much money or time to commission an artist to sketch a portrait, much less to print out a summary of what happened and post it on the wall with his name.  

So, I get home, and try to research why the museum would not have a recipient of our Nations highest medal for valor, making him a hero by any definition of the word.

I search the museum's site (google etchberger  #1 result is here with a publication date of May 18, 2015. 

 Interestingly, this page, with a publication date of May 12, 2015, lists "all" the USAF Medal of Honor recipients, but not the Chief.  

One might be able to accept a 6 year delay to carve a name in a piece of granite (I don't), or to commission a drawing (again, not I). However, having fixed errors on  web pages regularly, I know the longest and hardest part of that is usually logging in to the site.  Good gravy, you couldn't fix the list in the past 14 months?

I'm a little bummed.  The museum is an outstanding exhibit of aerospace history, but all the machinery in there is just that.  Inanimate Objects.  It took the hard work and brave actions of many people to accomplish the historical reference provided by each and every exhibit in the place.

But if the museum is going to catalog important and heroic events and include, as it should, events that were "above and beyond the call of duty", it should include all 60, not 59, men.  The museum should fix this ASAP.

National Museum of the U.S. Air Force
1100 Spaatz Street
Wright-Patterson AFB OH 45433

*SJC -Didn't want anyone to forget!


  1. Guess I need to shoot off a note to the Museum regarding the Chief. Heh, we have a picture they can use if they need one.

    Kind of an odd oversight.

    Great post Juvat.

    1. Yeah, I don't get it. I sent a letter to the director from the hotel before I left, haven't heard anything. I thought it was unusual that May 18th they posted an info sheet on him (complete with picture), but didn't correct the listing they'd done less than a week earlier. But, I'm going to stick with the old bromide "Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by incompetence."


  2. They seem to have some stuff up now, including an image of a memorial bench ( which may not actually be at the museum, that's unclear.

    I take your point and agree that they seem to be slacking on the carving.

    1. Those tended to be donated by individuals or groups (there were a lot of the benches around the area). They had three separate areas where they listed "all" the MOH recipients, the columns, the pictures and the website. All were missing the Chief.

  3. Since both the Air Force and Naval air long ago figured out that the way to fight a war was to drink coffee and throw officers at the enemy, maybe it slipped their mind that enlisted men, from time to time, do really heroic combat stuff.

    (For the surface navy, it's "drink coffee and send in the Marines". I do have a story on one of my blogs of a time when that almost didn't work so well.)

    1. We had a SSGT Filipino radio operator at the USAF/VNAF I-DASC and (Direct Air Support Center) on duty at ARVN I-Corps HQ and ARVN/MACV TOC (Tac Ops Ctr) compound the night of the Tet offensive when the bad guys came over the back wall. He gabbed a BAR from the comm connex at one end, ran the length of the bldgs verandah to where they were massing near the tennis courts (they were a French colony, after all :) ) and mowed a slew of 'em down and practically saved the HQ all by himself until ARVN reinforcements arrived. Guy was awarded the Silver Star and two purple hearts--should have gotten at least the DSC..

    2. PS: After Tet they built a bunker on top of the tennis courts. I was pissed as I used to play tennis with several of the vietnamese Officers stationed there. :)

    3. A Mad Radio Operator with a BAR? And he only got a Silver Star? Sounds like a novel to me!

      And a war with out tennis? How barbaric! HSWHTFPIHC

    4. Probably a good thing someone listened to reason on the Lebanon operation.

  4. I'm sorry, but that is absolutely pathetic. Especially to leave off the ONE enlisted that has won the medal is... I'm just going to shut up now.

    1. There were actually three Vietnam era MOH recipients. CMSGT Etchberger. A1C Pitsenbarger and A1C Levitow. WWII had quite a few, all bomber crew members. Every one of their stories indicates the award was well deserved.

    2. Sorry, first sentence should have read Three Vietnam era enlisted recipients. There were several others.


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