TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — The officers and crew of Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City will dedicate a mural to honor the Coast Guard’s Vietnam Combat Search and Rescue pilots, May 13, as part of the National Vietnam War Commemoration program to memorialize the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.
The 6-feet high by 8-feet wide mural is a timeline of the pilots’ activities during the Vietnam War and includes historical insight. It was designed by Lt. Dan Schrader, a pilot at Air Station Traverse City.
During the Vietnam conflict, 11 Coast Guard aviators voluntarily served with high honor and distinction with the U.S. Air Force Aerospace Rescue and Recovery forces in Southeast Asia in the dual role of aircraft commanders and instructor pilots. They regularly risked their lives flying into harm’s way to save airmen in peril of death or capture. For their significant contributions and exceptional performance, the Air Force awarded them with four Silver Stars, 16 Distinguished Flying Crosses, and 86 Air Medals in addition to many other accolades. One aviator, Lt. Jack Rittichier, made the ultimate sacrifice trying to rescue a downed Marine Corps A-4 pilot northwest of the A Shau Valley.
“These men carried out their noble mission with heroism and a focus on duty, honor, country and the Coast Guard,” said Capt. Sean Cross, commanding officer of Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City. “Their actions brought honor on themselves, the United States of America, the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Coast Guard.”
One of the Coast Guard aviators, retired Cmdr. Robert “Bobby” Long, will be the guest speaker for the event. He served in Vietnam from July 1972 to July 1973, and at Air Station Traverse City from August 1975 to June 1978, including during the Blizzard of ’78 and the Edmund Fitzgerald sinking.
For more information on the Coast Guard’s Vietnam Combat Search and Rescue Pilots, visit: http://ift.tt/1IXEjaO