Nightly News   |  September 21, 2010

Medal of Honor awarded to fallen Vietnam hero

In an emotional White House ceremony Tuesday, President Obama awarded a posthumous Medal of Honor to Chief Master Sgt. Richard L. Etchberger, who died in the line of duty in Laos in March 1968.

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This content comes from a Full-Text Transcript of the program.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: At a White House ceremony today, the president awarded the Medal of Honor to a military hero. However, Air Force Chief Master Sergeant Richard Etchberger was not there to receive the honor. Etchberger died in the line of duty March of 1968 . It's because of his mission and because of where he died, in Laos , that it's taken this long. We weren't supposed to be in Laos . On that day in 1968 , Etchberger intentionally exposed himself to enemy fire to place three wounded men on board rescue choppers. They were under attack by thousands of enemy, and as they flew away, ground fire hit and killed him. The president today said this was all a part of righting a wrong from an entire era.

President BARACK OBAMA: Today, also marks another chapter in a larger story of our nation finally honoring that generation of Vietnam veterans who served with dedication and courage, but all too often were shunned when they came home, which was a disgrace that must never happen again.

WILLIAMS: Etchberger 's three sons were there today at the emotional event to accept the thanks of a grateful president, a proud branch of the US armed forces and, of course, a grateful nation.