Fallen Coast Guard hero remembered

LT Jack C. Rittichier

LT Jack C. Rittichier stands beside his aircraft in this U.S. Coast Guard photo.

The women and men of Air Station Detroit marked a somber anniversary earlier this week and honored the memory of a fallen hero. On June 9, 1968, Lieutenant Jack C. Rittichier was shot down and killed in action while performing a search and rescue mission in “one of the most heavily defended areas in Southeast Asia.”

Rittichier, a plank owner of Air Station Detroit – where the main hangar bears his name, was serving as an exchange pilot with the Air Force 37th Air Rescue and Recovery Squadron (ARSS) when his helicopter was shot down while trying to save a fellow aviator. He was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for his gallantry and devotion to duty during the mission.

LT JACK C RITTICHIER, United States Coast Guard, distinguished himself by gallantry in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force as Rescue Crew Commander of an HH-3E helicopter in Southeast Asia on 9 June 1968. On that date, LT RITTICHIER attempted the rescue of a downed pilot from one of the most heavily defended areas in Southeast Asia. Despite intense accurate hostile fire which had severely damaged another helicopter, LT RITTICHIER, with undaunted determination, indomitable courage, and professional skill, established a hover and persisted in the rescue attempt until his aircraft was downed by the hostile fire. By his gallantry and devotion to duty, LT RITTICHIER reflected great credit upon himself and the United Station Coast Guard. (Silver Star citation for Jack C. Rittichier.)

On the anniversary of the mission, members of Air Station Detroit were joined by Bill Forsyth of Joint Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Command (JPAC); retired Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Jim Loomis; and Allan Kaupinen, a Kent State University classmate of Rittichier to honor the memory of the highly decorated Coast Guard hero.

U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Detroit holds a memorial service for Lt. Jack C. Rittichier. Commemorating the event at the air station are (left to right): Cmdr. Daniel Travers, the station's commanding officer; Rear Adm. Michael N. Parks, Ninth Coast Guard District commander; Bill Forsyth of Joint Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Command (JPAC); Lt. Cmdr. (Ret.) Jim Loomis; and Allen Kaupinen, a Kent State University classmate of Rittichier. Also shown are personal effects of Rittichier and a rotor blade belonging to his downed helicopter. The rotor and other related crash site items were recovered in 2002 by an archaeological team led by Forsyth. (U.S. Coast Guard Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Chuck Reinhart)

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4 Responses

  1. Dan Dewell says:

    LCDR Rittichier’s remains were eventually recovered and he was buried at Arlington National Cemetery, October 6, 2003. Info and photos at…

  2. James Holt says:

    What happened to his crew?

  3. Christopher Lagan says:

    James,

    Sorry for the delay in getting back to you on this but I had to do a little digging to find supporting documentation.

    The entire air crew was lost when the helicopter piloted by LT Rittichier went down. They were: U.S. Air Force Capt. Richard C. Yeend, Jr. (the co-pilot); U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Elmer L. Holden, and U.S. Air Force Sgt. James D. Locker.

    You can read more here: .

    Respectfully,
    Christopher Lagan
    United States Coast Guard
    Public Affairs

  4. Robert Eikey says:

    I was once told by my grandfather that he served with and knew LT Rittichier as my grandfather, Bill Eikey was an ADCM who retired in 1969. I wore the LT’s MIA/POW bracelet for years as he was the only MIA from the Coast Guard in Vietnam. I was proud to know that my families Military history crossed paths with him as he is a hero worth remembering, as are all of those who have ever pulled on a boot in the service to our country. I still have that bracelet and I wear it every memorial day. My boys take a keen interest in all things Military and they know the story of this guardian who is gone but will never be forgotten. Bob Eikey -Seaman- USCG 1988-1990