Hamburg Strand Medal of Honor

The Hamburg Strand Theater had a packed house for the Jan. 23 screening of a Netflix “Medal of Honor” episode featuring Hamburg hometown hero Richard Etchberger. Pictured is a video of his son, Cory, Skyping with one of the writers of the Netflix series.

The community filled the Hamburg Strand Theater on Jan. 23 for the screening of a Netflix “Medal of Honor” episode featuring Hamburg hometown hero Richard Etchberger who served in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War and died in an attack in Laos.

“We had a packed house, around 180 people,” said Stephanie Adam, Hamburg Strand theater coordinator. “I hope this event offers pride in the community and its members.”

“Medal of Honor” is a Netflix docudrama series that recreates inspiring true stories that honor service members whose courage merited receiving a Medal of Honor. A 2018 episode featured Richard Etchberger, a 2010 Medal of Honor recipient.

According to the CMSgt Richard L Etchberger Foundation website, http://www.chiefetchbergerfoundation.org/biography.html, “Because of his leadership skills and technical expertise he volunteered for a top secret mission at Lima Site 85 in Laos. In the early morning hours of March 11, 1968, the site came under attack from North Vietnamese soldiers who had scaled the surrounding cliffs. By 3 a.m., Chief Etchberger and six others were the only surviving Americans out of the original 19. Dick tended to the wounded, called for air strikes, and fought off the advancing North Vietnamese troops until a rescue helicopter arrived. He then helped load the wounded onto slings to be lifted into the hovering aircraft before coming aboard himself. As the helicopter headed towards an air base in Thailand, an enemy soldier below fired his AK-47 into the underside of the aircraft, fatally wounding Chief Etchberger.”

“People were in awe of Richard’s heroic efforts to save his men. ‘What a guy!’ they kept saying,” said Adam.

During the Jan. 23 screening, Hamburg Strand showed the episode featuring Richard Etchberger, as well as additional videos and memories shared by his son, Cory Etchberger. This included Cory Skyping with one of the writers of “Medal of Honor” episode.

“The Etchbergers have deep roots in the community and Cory still has a lot of pride for the place he was raised,” said Adam. “It’s nice to have him there to tie everything together and personalize the movie.”

Etchberger grew up in Hamburg. His father, Donald, ran a small general store. Both Richard and his brother Robert worked at the store through their years at Hamburg High School, according to the Richard Etchberger Foundation website.

The Strand screening was a free show with all donations going to CMSgt Richard L Etchberger Foundation and the Hamburg Strand Theater.

“We were able to raise a significant amount of donations for both the Strand and the Richard Etchberger Foundation, which funds are returned to the community in the form of a scholarship to a student with leadership qualities.”

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Lisa Mitchell is an editor for Berks-Mont Newspapers, covering news and events in the Northeast Berks County area.

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