For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Sgt. Levitow (then A1c.), U.S. Air Force, distinguished himself by exceptional heroism while assigned as a loadmaster aboard an AC-47 aircraft flying a night mission in support of Long Binh Army Post. Sgt. Levitow’s aircraft was struck by a hostile mortar round. The resulting explosion ripped a hole two feet in diameter through the wing and fragments made over 3,500 holes in the fuselage. All occupants of the cargo compartment were wounded and helplessly slammed against the floor and fuselage. The explosion tore an activated flare from the grasp of a crewmember who had been launching flares to provide illumination for Army ground troops engaged in combat. Sgt. Levitow, though stunned by the concussion of the blast and suffering from over 40 fragment wounds in the back and legs, staggered to his feet and turned to assist the man nearest to him who had been knocked down and was bleeding heavily. As he was moving his wounded comrade forward and away from the opened cargo compartment door, he saw the smoking flare ahead of him in the aisle. Realizing the danger involved and completely disregarding his own wounds, Sgt. Levitow started toward the burning flare. The aircraft was partially out of control and the flare was rolling wildly from side to side. Sgt. Levitow struggled forward despite the loss of blood from his many wounds and the partial loss of feeling in his right leg. Unable to grasp the rolling flare with his hands, he threw himself bodily upon the burning flare. Hugging the deadly device to his body, he dragged himself back to the rear of the aircraft and hurled the flare through the open cargo door. At that instant the flare separated and ignited in the air, but clear of the aircraft. Sgt. Levitow, by his selfless and heroic actions, saved the aircraft and its entire crew from certain death and destruction. Sgt. Levitow’s gallantry, his profound concern for his fellow men, at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty, are in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Air Force and reflect great credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of his country.
Medal Of Honor: Airman John Lee Levitow
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The John L. Levitow award is the highest award (or used to be) given in USAF Professional Military Education for the Honor Graduate in each class. I got to know him for a few days in passing during 1981 at Griffiss AFB (closed now) during Project Odin, where all surviving MOH recipients from the USAAF and USAF were brought for a celebration of their deeds. Interesting man.
That is awesome. I actually flew out of Griffiss a few times in the late 80s, early 90s.
Griffiss was an interesting assignment, and great if you liked hunting & fishing. I left in ’84 never to return, but had a great time there. Winters were brutal, though. Learned an awful lot about operating in deep snow and extremely cold temps….
Yeah, I was at Ft. Drum. Nasty winters. Good skiing for the east coast.
Mind, that flare was a 27 pound magnesium behemoth.