April 11, 1966, is recognized as one of the bloodiest days of the Vietnam War.
That day, during Operation Abilene, Air Force pararescuemen were called upon to extract American soldiers who found themselves under intense enemy fire. Among the pararescuemen was William H. Pitsenbarger, who that day was able to single-handedly save the lives of nearly 60 soldiers, sacrificing his own life in the process.
Pits, as he is commonly known, was posthumously awarded the Air Force Cross in 1966, but in 2000, it was upgraded to the Medal of Honor after a young Washington bureaucrat, along with surviving soldiers of Operation Abilene and Pitsenbarger’s father, convinced Congress to reconsider the legacy of his sacrifice.
Seventeen years later, the story of Pits and his rescue effort is set to become a major motion picture. “The Last Full Measure” will star such Hollywood actors as Samuel L. Jackson, Bradley Whitford and Sebastian Stan. And playing a small part in the movie will be a local bagpiper, who has been a Prineville Band of Brothers member for the past six years.