Posthumous Silver Star for Lima Site 85 Hero

The Air Force has awarded the late MSgt. James Calfee a posthumous Silver Star Medal—the nation’s third highest award for military valor—for his heroic actions during a firefight on a Laotian mountaintop on March 11, 1968. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) presented the Silver Star to Calfee’s sisters during a private ceremony in August, according to an Oct. 15 Air Force release. Service officials on Oct. 15 held a memorial ceremony at Barksdale AFB, La., with members of Calfee’s family. Calfee was among the airmen operating Lima Site 85, a top secret radar facility on the Phu Pha Thi Ridge that enabled all-weather bombing runs into North Vietnam. When North Vietnamese troops stormed the site, Calfee was shot in the face and upper chest, but continued firing on the enemy, enabling five of his colleagues to reach a rescue helicopter, according to the release. He subsequently died at the site. The Silver Star is an upgrade to the posthumous Bronze Star Medal with Valor Device that the Air Force originally awarded Calfee, states the release. Among Calfee’s colleagues who also lost their lives in the same firefight was CMSgt. Richard Etchberger, whom the Air Force awarded a posthumous Medal of Honor in 2010. (See also The Fall of Lima Site 85 from the Air Force Magazine archives.)