Veterans National Shrine unveils bench to honor fallen Airman

The Veterans National Memorial Shrine and Museum unveiled a bench to honor William H. Pitsenbarger from Piqua, Ohio, an Air Force para-rescuer in the Vietnam War who gave his life, saving wounded Army soldiers from the Vietcong on April 11, 1966.

Posted: May 25, 2020 4:46 PM
Updated: May 26, 2020 9:49 AM

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) - Every year on Memorial Day, the Veterans National Memorial Shrine and Museum in Fort Wayne honors their fallen brother and sisters. Now, they have a new feature that will do just that. 

On Monday, they unveiled a bench to honor William H. Pitsenbarger from Piqua, Ohio, an Air Force para-rescuer in the Vietnam War who gave his life, saving wounded Army soldiers from the Vietcong on April 11, 1966.

The A1C’s heroics earned him a Medal of Honor and a film about his bravery on that day.

Bruce Lehman, a board member of the Veterans National Memorial Shrine, where the bench sits, says filmmakers LionsGate wanted a place to honor Pitsenbarger.

Lehman explained, "They were looking for a place to honor Mr. Pitsenbarger in relation to the film, of course The Last Full Measure and they went to several places and decided that Fort Wayne and the Veterans Memorial Shrine and Museum was the place to put it."

It's not entirely about Pitsenbarger though, it's about honoring everyone who paid the ultimate price for freedom.

One of those who paid their respects during the ceremony was Phillip J. Hall of Wisconsin, who was part of the Army infantry company that Pitsenbarger helped on that day.

"It’s great, these people, like Bill Pitsenbarger, cannot be forgotten," Hall said. "He needs to be remembered for the hero and the sacrifices that he gave his life so that others may live."

It wasn’t just Hall who came out to support, hundreds of people gathered at the shrine this Memorial Day to honor the fallen.

The Warrior Breed Motorcycle Club is a veteran founded MC that helps veterans groups across the area.

National president Gary Perkey says they spread the word to friends about the event and he’s proud to have helped get the Memorial Day message out.

"We thought this was going to be big, but in no way, no way we could have anticipated it would be this kind of support. It’s support for those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. This is a veteran, patriotic community and they showed it today."

So now, there’s another space where people can come honor the fallen, not just on Memorial Day, but every day.

To learn more about the Veterans National Memorial Shrine and Museum, click here.

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