Memorial Day 2021

Especially on Memorial Day, I like to browse the Medal of Honor citations posted on the Internet. I always come away inspired, humble, and amazed at the unfathomable sacrifices made, and the courage so many men and women have shown, in situations I have never faced.

Here is Harold Agerholm’s Medal of Honor citation. Private First Class Agerholm was 19 years old when he saved 45 fellow American soldiers, one by one, until he lost his own life in the effort. His life was cut short before it really began, but 45 other lives continued because of his bravery and self-sacrifice. I imagine that 45 families were and are forever grateful to PFC Agerholm. So should all of us be.

Here’s my favorite: (A1C Pitsenbarger USAF)

On April 11, 1966, near Cam My, Republic of Vietnam, A1C Pitsenbarger sacrificed his life to save nine others. He was a pararescueman on a helicopter evacuating American casualties from a dense jungle area, and voluntarily organized and coordinated rescue efforts at the scene, ensuring that the recovery operation proceeded smoothly. However, when the last wounded person had been assisted to the recovery site, the hovering rescue helicopter was hit by enemy fire and the pilot was forced to make an emergency landing at an airstrip nearby, abandoning rescue attempts.

A1C Pitsenbarger volunteered to stay behind and tend to the wounded amid heavy mortar and sniper fire. He continually exposed himself to intensive automatic fire while collecting weapons from fallen comrades for use by remaining defenders. Even after he’d been incapacitated by his wounds, A1C Pitsenbarger continued directing defensive efforts.

His actions during the mission were initially recognized with a posthumous award of the Air Force Cross. That award is the military’s second-highest for service members, and the highest award the Air Force can bestow.

Upon further review in the 1990s, a number of private citizens and federal officials successfully advocated that the Medal of Honor would more accurately characterize Pitsenbarger’s heroism.

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We went up to Idaho to put my mom’s and dad’s ashes in a columbarium.

Anyway, I have two uncles buried in the same cemetery that were WWII Navy veterans. Also, my dad is a WWII Army Air Corp veteran. And, in the same cemetery, my Great Grandfather is also a vet…of the Civil War.

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If you don’t mind me asking, where in Idaho?

New Plymouth

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