Fred W. Zabitosky

5th Special Forces Group

Medal of Honor



S/Sgt. Fred William Zabitosky

19 February 1968

U.S. Army


5th Special Forces Group (Airborne)

1st Special Forces

Republic of Vietnam, 

Entered service at: Trenton, N.J.

Born: 27 October 1942, Trenton, N.J.


SERGEANT FIRST CLASS FRED W. ZABITOSKY, UNITED STATES ARMY, Studies and Observations Group, then a Staff Sergeant, distinguished himself while serving as an assistant team leader of a nine-man Special Forces long-range reconnaissance patrol operating deep within enemy held territory in Laos. On 19 February 1968, they were attacked by a numerically superior North Vietnamese Army unit. Rallying his team members, he deployed them into defensive positions and exposed himself to concentrated enemy fire in order to better direct their return fire. He covered their withdrawal to a landing zone for extraction. Rejoining the patrol, now under increased enemy pressure, he positioned each man in a tight perimeter defense, encouraging them one by one and controlling their fire. Inspired by his example, the patrol maintained its position until the arrival of the rescue helicopter. The North Vietnamese pressed their attack when the helicopters arrived, and Sergeant Zabitosky again exposed himself to their fire, allowing the helicopter gunship to adjust suppressive fire. He positioned himself beside the helicopter door-gunner and fired on the enemy as the ship took off. The helicopter crashed after being engulfed in a hail of bullets and Sergeant Zabitosky was thrown from the craft. Recovering consciousness, he ignored his painful injuries and moved to the flaming wreckage where he pulled the severely wounded pilot and copilot from the blaze. He made repeated attempts to rescue his fellow patrol members but was driven back by the intense heat. Despite his own serious burns and crushed ribs, he dragged the unconscious pilots through a curtain of enemy fire to within ten feet of a hovering rescue helicopter before collapsing.

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