DAYTON — “Lest we forget.” This phrase is often heard regarding heroic actions involving a member of the military service, law enforcement, or firefighters.
On Tuesday, the Wright Dunbar Dayton Region Walk of Fame committee proved that Americans do not forget.
During luncheon ceremonies held at Sinclair Community College, Piqua native William Hart Pitsenbarger was inducted in the Walk of Fame as a member of the Class of 2020.
A1C Pitsenbarger, a member of the elite USAF ParaRescue Jumpers, saved the lives of a number of members of Charlie Company, 1st Infantry Division — also known as the Mud Soldiers — during an intense firefight in April 1966 in Vietnam. Pitsenbarger’s selfless heroism earned the Piqua Central High School graduate the nation’s highest honor, the Medal of Honor. It also cost him his life.
“Pits,” as he was called by friends, was one of five Ohioans inducted on Tuesday. Accepting the award plaque on behalf of the Pitsenbarger family was SGM Fred Navarro, U.S. Army, Retired, one of the Mud Soldiers who is alive today because of William Pitsenbarger.
Navarro emotionally recounted that fateful April day, more than 55 years ago, as he told the story of being wounded during the firefight, then being covered by Pitsenbarger’s “flak vest” that the airman had removed from his own body in order to protect the wounded soldier.
In addition to recognizing Pitsenbarger, other inductees included Governor Mike DeWine, entertainer John Legend, educator/activist Hallie Quinn Brown, and scientist/inventor William Hale Charch.
The complete story of Pitsenbarger’s heroism, and the 20-plus year fight to get the fallen airman the MoH is told in the 2020 film by Sidney Sherman and Todd Robinson’s “The Last Full Measure.“