Military January 21, 2020

By Katie Lange, DOD News: Medal of Honor Monday: Marine Corps Pfc. Oscar Austin

Oscar Palmer Austin (January 15, 1948 – February 23, 1969) was a United States Marine who posthumously received his nation’s highest military honor — the Medal of Honor — for heroism and sacrifice of his own life in Vietnam in February 1969.

On February 12, 1969, Austin’s observation post near Da Nang was attacked by a large North Vietnamese force. Austin’s fellow Marine was wounded, and Austin went over to help him. Austin jumped onto an enemy grenade landing near the wounded man and suffered severe injuries, and then protected his fellow Marine by jumping between him and a shooting Vietnamese soldier. He was mortally wounded during this action, and was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in 1970.

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William Hart Pitsenbarger (July 8, 1944 – April 11, 1966) was a United States Air Force Pararescueman who flew on almost 300 rescue missions during the Vietnam War to aid downed soldiers and pilots.

On April 11, 1966, he was killed aiding and defending a unit of soldiers pinned down by an enemy assault during the Vietnam War. He was initially posthumously awarded the Air Force Cross, which was later upgraded to the Medal of Honor.