We spend a lot of time at Nine Line News looking around us and to the future — whether it’s providing information about politics, the current state of the military, veterans issues and much more.

But we want to take a second to look to the past for a bit. All too often, the issues surrounding recent wars makes us forget about the sacrifice made for us in wars that we’ve fought in the past.


A Special Hero Enters Valhalla

On Friday, October 13th, Richard Pittman, a Vietnam Marine who was awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism on the battlefield, departed from the ranks of the living. He was 71 years old. A resident of the town of Stockton, CA, he was the pride of the town.

Since its beginning in the Civil War, the Medal of Honor — the US military’s highest ranking decoration — has only been awarded to 3,512 people. In order to qualify for the award while alive, there must be a minimum of three witnesses to the recipient’s actions.


What He Did

All modern citations for the award begin in the same way: “For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.” That really says a lot and there’s often a lot to unpack. For SGT Pittman’s own citation, you can find it here.

When a platoon to the front of his position got into contact with North Vietnamese Army(NVA) regulars, they quickly realized that they had slipped into the fight of their lives. The platoon called for more firepower, and SGT Pittman, without regard to his own life or personal safety, exchanged his rifle for a machine gun and charged up to help.

He destroyed two machine gun posts, then he heard about some of his fellow marines who were wounded further up the trail. He moved up to their location just as NVA forces were forming another assault. Although 30–40 NVA soldiers tried to attack his position, SGT Pittman raked the assaulting element with his machine gun until it was rendered ineffective.

He then proceeded to continue firing on the advancing enemy with both an NVA weapon and a fallen comrade’s pistol. By his gallantry, he repelled the additional attacks, then rejoined the firing line.

There’s also a valiant account from SGT Pittman’s own words that was recorded and posted to YouTube back in 2011 that you can find here.


How to Honor Our Heroes

Many people often hear stories about people like SGT Pittman and they are, understandably, filled with a sense of gratitude — one that can never truly be repaid. But just because actions can never be fully repaid doesn’t mean that we cannot as a nation do what’s right.

The sacrifice of SGT Pittman and untold thousands just like him are the reason that we at Nine Line are “relentlessly patriotic”. We know that no one man built this country on his own, rather we all put together our blood, sweat and tears to bring our founder’s dreams to fruition.

As such, we stand for our flag, we love our great country and we do whatever we can as individual citizens, whether it’s serving in the military, helping our local communities and everything in between to ensure that we remain an amazing nation to pass on to the next generation.

From Nine Line News, we would like to wish SGT Pittman’s family our deepest condolences and our deepest respect and admiration for a hero who put others’ lives above his own. For this, we will be eternally grateful.