Enlisted Heritage Hall updates Etchberger exhibit|
by Carl Bergquist
Air University Public Affairs
10/4/2010 - MAXWELL-GUNTER AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- With Chief Master Sgt. Richard Etchberger's Air Force Cross upgraded to the Medal of Honor, the Enlisted Heritage Hall museum at Gunter is in the process of upgrading its Etchberger Air Force Cross exhibit. The museum has also added another podium to its display that honors enlisted members who received the Medal of Honor, said Bill Chivalette, EHH curator.
The Medal of Honor was awarded to Chief Etchberger 42 years after the events that supported the original Air Force Cross medal. Mr. Chivalette said the long delay was because of the classified nature of the chief's Vietnam War mission, and the upgrade came after years of urging by family members and friends, politicians, EHH, and military and government members once the mission was declassified.
Mr. Chivalette said now that the upgrade is a reality, EHH personnel will revamp the Etchberger display by replacing the AFC citation and medal with Medal of Honor counterparts and other new graphics.
"To honor Chief Etchberger, we have also added a seventh podium to the large MOH exhibit at the front of the museum," he said.
Mr. Chivalette said he feels everyone at EHH, past and present, is pleased with the action because it is a collective opinion that Chief Etchberger deserved the Medal of Honor. After the dedication of the Etchberger exhibit about 10 years ago, the family approached the Air Force Enlisted Heritage Research Institute, which oversees the museum, and asked for help in getting the upgrade.
"At the time, we referred them to the Air Force Sergeants Association and their local congressman, but over the years, we have provided a lot of information for the project," he said. "At a key point in the upgrade investigation, we provided the Air Force History Office with information that significantly assisted them in that investigation."
Mr. Chivalette said the collection of information for an Etchberger upgrade goes as far back as 1987, when then-director of AFEHRI, Chief Master Sgt. Gary Akin, began looking into the matter. Information Chief Akin collected became the foundation for the effort to get Chief Etchberger's Air Force Cross upgraded to a Medal of Honor, Mr. Chivalette said.