PIQUA, Ohio (WDTN) – A war hero from Piqua was awarded the nation’s highest military honor for his actions on the battlefield, and his story plays out in a movie set to premiere nationwide this week.
Airman William H. Pitsenbarger was only 22 years old when he was killed in action during the Vietnam war on April 11, 1966.
“He was born and raised in the city of Piqua. He was an only child, and at the age of 22 gave his life for others,” said Kathy Sherman, President of the Piqua Area Chamber of Commerce. “He is just such an amazing piece of our history.”
34 years after his death, Pitsenbarger was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions on the battlefield.
“On his day off he went anyway to help and he rescued several soldiers already. He lifted them up to the helicopter. They were flagging him to come up and he waved it off. He decided that he wanted to stay there and continue to help those that were in need,” said Dwayne Thompson, Superintendent of Piqua City Schools.
Pitsenbarger’s heroic actions are portrayed by actor Grant Gustin in the upcoming film, “The Last Full Measure,” starring Sebastian Stan, Samuel L. Jackson, William Hurt and Christopher Plummer. The film is set to premiere in Piqua on Thursday, one day before its nationwide release.
“He embodies that sense of hero because of the movie title, ‘The Last Full Measure.’ It’s that true devotion to one’s country and the people he was fighting with,” Thompson said. “At all cost with no care or concern for his own safety he went in there and literally gave his life to save the life of others.”
“There isn’t anybody else that we can look up to that did something like that for the people that he fought next to,” Sherman said.
The premier will feature a reception to be held at the Miami Valley Centre Mall beginning at 5:30 p.m. The reception is open to the public and will include the veterans of Operation Abilene, representatives of the United States Air Force, United States Army, the filmmakers, and more.
The film will be screened for reserved veterans at 7:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. at Cinemark Cinemas. A Q&A with the writer & director Todd Robinson, producers and veterans of Abilene will follow each screening. A third screening will be open to the public with tickets available through the Cinemark box office.