Air Station Detroit honors Lt. Jack Rittichier


(Shown here, left to right, surrounding the personal effects of Lt. Rittichier and a rotor from his crash site: Cmdr. Daniel Travers, commander, Air Station Detroit; Rear Adm. Michael Parks, commander of the Ninth Coast Guard District; Bill Forsyth of JPAC, Lt.Cmdr. (retired); Jim Loomis and Allen Kaupinen, a Kent State University classmate of Lt. Rittichier.)
The following post is from Petty Officer 1st Class Charles Reinhart:

From the Field: Air Station Detroit holds Lt. Rittichier Memorial Service

A Coast Guard aviator who made the ultimate sacrifice was memorialized June 9, 2010 in an emotional ceremony at Air Station Detroit when a hanger was rededicated in his honor.

Lt. Jack C. Rittichier, of Akron, Ohio and a Kent State University graduate, was the only Coast Guard aviator to be killed in action during the Vietnam War. Rittichier, declared missing in action until 2003, was co-pilot aboard an HH-3E “Jolly Green Giant” helicopter assigned to rescue a Marine pilot in 1968 when he was shot down in A Shau Valley near the Vietnam border of Laos.

The crash site, including Rittichier’s remains and those of his three Air Force crew members, were discovered by a Joint Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Accounting Command (JPAC) recovery team led by Dr. Alex Christiansen in 2002. Christiansen was acknowledged with a Certificate of Merit from the Coast Guard for his efforts at the ceremony.

Also receiving acknowledgement at the ceremony were Lt. Cmdr. Eric Castillo, who was awarded the Coast Guard Achievement Medal for his efforts in leading the overflight in identification of the crash site. Neither Christiansen nor Castillo was able to attend due to schedule conflicts. Bill Forsyth of JPAC received a Coast Guard Certificate of Merit for his work in identifying the crash site and repatriating the remains of the crew.

Dignitaries attending the event included Rear Adm. Michael N.Parks, commander of the Ninth Coast Guard District, Cmdr. Daniel Travers, Air Station Detroit commanding officer, and three keynote speakers: Forsyth, Lt. Cmdr. Jim Loomis (retired) and Allen Kaupinen, a Kent State University football teammate of Rittchier.

The ceremony culminated in the unveiling of a display of Rittichier’s personal effects and the rotor from his helicopter recovered at the crash site by the JPAC team.

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