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.