Fred Zabitosky

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Fred Zabitosky (1942-1996) was a non-commissioned officer in United States Army Special Forces and MACV-SOG, who received the Medal of Honor for actions in the Vietnam War. He served four tours in Vietnam, and became one of the Army's experts on long-range ground special reconnaissance.

He was a troubled teenager who credits the Army with giving him the discipline needed for the rest of his life.[1]

Vietnam

In MACV-SOG, he was assigned to Command and Control North.

Medal of Honor

Citation

Rank and organization: Sergeant First Class (then S/Sgt.), U.S. Army, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne). Place and date: Republic of Vietnam, 19 February 1968. Entered service at: Trenton, N.J. Born: 27 October 1942, Trenton, N.J. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Sfc. Zabitosky, U.S. Army, distinguished himself while serving as an assistant team leader of a 9-man Special Forces long-range reconnaissance patrol. Sfc. Zabitosky's patrol was operating deep within enemy-controlled territory when they were attacked by a numerically superior North Vietnamese Army unit. Sfc. Zabitosky rallied his team members, deployed them into defensive positions, and, exposing himself to concentrated enemy automatic weapons fire, directed their return fire. Realizing the gravity of the situation, Sfc. Zabitosky ordered his patrol to move to a landing zone for helicopter extraction while he covered their withdrawal with rifle fire and grenades. Rejoining the patrol under increasing enemy pressure, he positioned each man in a tight perimeter defense and continually moved from man to man, encouraging them and controlling their defensive fire. Mainly due to his example, the outnumbered patrol maintained its precarious position until the arrival of tactical air support and a helicopter extraction team. As the rescue helicopters arrived, the determined North Vietnamese pressed their attack. Sfc. Zabitosky repeatedly exposed himself to their fire to adjust suppressive helicopter gunship fire around the landing zone. After boarding 1 of the rescue helicopters, he positioned himself in the door delivering fire on the enemy as the ship took off. The helicopter was engulfed in a hail of bullets and Sfc. Zabitosky was thrown from the craft as it spun out of control and crashed. Recovering consciousness, he ignored his extremely painful injuries and moved to the flaming wreckage. Heedless of the danger of exploding ordnance and fuel, he pulled the severely wounded pilot from the searing blaze and made repeated attempts to rescue his patrol members but was driven back by the intense heat. Despite his serious burns and crushed ribs, he carried and dragged the unconscious pilot through a curtain of enemy fire to within 10 feet of a hovering rescue helicopter before collapsing. Sfc. Zabitosky's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.

Personal observations

There is no such thing as patriotism in a combat situation. You don't think about medals, promotions or even the flag. You don't think about why you are there or even your family. You think strictly about the people you are with, and what you can do for each other.
'I wear the medal, but it was earned by Doug Glover, my indigenous team members and all the Special Forces enlisted men who served on special projects. 'All the guys who wore that beret in combat have done just as much as I have, even though they may not have received the Medal of Honor.[1]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Kent DeLong (February 1996), "Fred Zabitosky: Vietnam Veteran and Medal of Honor Winner", Vietnam Magazine