“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).
On April 11, 1966, two helicopters lifted off to extract Army casualties pinned down in a battle near Saigon. Aboard “Pedro 73,” one of the Huskie choppers, rescue specialist William Pitsenbarger, 21, had already completed more than 250 missions.
The helicopters couldn’t land in the densely forested battle zone. The plan was to use cables and winches to hoist the injured up from the jungle floor and through the thick canopy.
On arrival Pitsenbarger could see the ground troops needed help loading the wounded, so he volunteered to be lowered to the ground. As the fight continued, he helped rescue nine soldiers before the helicopters were forced to withdraw. He chose to stay behind to care for the remaining wounded.
The following morning, U.S. forces recovered survivors and the fallen. Pitsenbarger was among those who had lost their lives. In his hand he still clutched a medical kit. He died saving others. The 2019 film The Last Full Measure tells his story.
The Bible records an even more dramatic rescue—a daring plan to send an infant behind enemy lines. A child born for us. A second Adam to die for us. The greatest love in action.