March 11, 1968

SMSgt. Richard L. Etchberger dies while keeping the enemy at bay with an M-16 and saving the lives of three other airmen when North Vietnamese overrun the secret radar facility known as Lima Site 85 in the mountains of Laos. For his heroic actions, the Air Force declined to award the Medal of Honor, instead presenting an Air Force Cross to his widow in a closed ceremony to preserve the secrecy. (Some 42 years later and following an act of Congress, the award was upgraded to the Medal of Honor and presented on Sept. 21, 2010 by President Barack Obama to Etchberger’s three sons during a White House ceremony.) (See Sept. 21, 2010 entry)