SNCOA to unveil Etchberger bust



by Kelly Deichert
Air University Public Affairs


3/16/2012 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, GUNTER ANNEX, Ala. -- The Air University Foundation continues to recognize the legacy of Chief Master Sgt. Richard L. Etchberger by adding a bronze bust to his exhibit at the Air Force Senior Noncommissioned Officer Academy March 26. Etchberger's family will attend the ceremony and present his Medal of Honor to the Air Force Enlisted Heritage Research Institute for permanent display.

"These will serve as a lasting tribute to Chief Etchberger and will perpetuate his legacy," said retired Col. Joseph Panza, executive director of the AU Foundation.

The Air University Foundation raised $16,000 to commission a bust, featuring Etchberger in his 1968 service dress uniform.

Etchberger was killed March 11, 1968, while defending his fellow Airmen in an attack at Lima Site 85 in Laos. His actions saved four of his team members. After his mission was declassified, Etchberger was awarded the Medal of Honor in 2010.

Panza, who was a co-pilot on the rescue mission, said he was proud to recognize Etchberger's dedication to his team through an award at the SNCOA.

"I was honored to award the inaugural Etchberger Award to flight 17 on March 11, 2011, 43 years to the day of the attack at Lima Site 85, when Etchberger lost his life," he said.

The Chief Master Sgt. Richard L. Etchberger Team Award recognizes the flight most dedicated to academics, physical fitness and community involvement. The AU Foundation awards each of the flight's 15 members a medallion.

Etchberger's exhibit at the SNCOA displays a copy of the award medallion, featuring Etchberger and the Medal of Honor on one side, and Lima Site 85 in Laos on the other.

"We continue to raise funds to support the Etchberger project," Panza said.