About Fred William Zabitosky
The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Sergeant First Class Fred William Zabitosky (ASN: RA-12587013), United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving an assistant team leader of a nine-man Special Forces long-range reconnaissance patrol with 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces, in action against enemy aggressor forces in Laos, on 19 February 1968. Sergeant First Class Zabitosky's patrol was operating deep within enemy-controlled territory when they were attacked by a numerically superior North Vietnamese Army unit. Sergeant First Class 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, Sergeant First Class 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. Sergeant First Class Zabitosky repeatedly exposed himself to their fire to adjust suppressive helicopter gunship fire around the landing zone. After boarding one 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 Sergeant First Class 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 ten feet of a hovering rescue helicopter before collapsing. Sergeant First Class 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 United States Army.
General Orders: Department of the Army, General Orders No. 27 (April 17, 1969)
Action Date: 19-Feb-68
Rank: Sergeant First Class
Regiment: 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne)
Division: 1st Special Forces