The Last Full Measure

For all you enlisted Air Force guys that served in Vietnam.

In January of 2020, a movie was released about Airman First Class (A1C) William Pittsenbarger.  The movie is called “The Last Full Measure.”

Official Trailer of the movie The Last Full Measure. If you haven’t seen it, get ready for a movie that can stir up feelings of injustice. It was the last movie that Peter Fonda did before his death.

What makes this movie so interesting is, it is one of the very few stories of an enlisted USAF personnel who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor (CMH) twenty years after he was killed in action.

This is a true story of an Airman who saved over sixty lives in an intense battle between a company of The First Infantry Division, and overwhelming odds against a Battalion of Viet Cong, northeast of Saigon in the year 1966.

The stigma and stereotype of Air Force Pilots flying fighters, bombers, and gunships with the skill of an officer and a gentleman will always be there.  But, this story is about the skill of an enlisted person and the valor that was displayed during this particular battle.

It is the story of justice delayed that brings on justice denied because of politics, arrogance, and coverups that occurred during an operation which was code named “Abilene”.

This movie will shed light on the Army and the USAF.  Airman Pittsenbarger was put in for the CMH through Army channels.  The Air Force never moved on the award because of the after action information that was in question about the Abilene operation, not about the heroic deeds that took place.

The survivors of the battle, although Army, continued their quest to recognize Pittsenbarger on behalf of The USAF for over two decades.

This hits home with me and a lot of other USAF enlisted personnel.  Purple Hearts, Bronze Stars, and Silver Stars are not the norms of certain branches of our military.  Especially the USAF.  In general, most awards in the USAF involving Enlisted personnel who served in Vietnam are not awarded until exhausted research of mistakes within the administrative protocols are completed years after the battle is over.

This movie however is a refreshing and thoughtful depiction of how the Army and Air Force came together as one to honor true Valor.