SFC FRED W. ZABITOSKY
5th Special Forces Group (Airborne)
Vicinity of the Republic of Vietnam
19 February 1968
As second in command of a 9 man Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP), SFC Zabitosky’s patrol was operating deep within enemy-controlled territory when they were attacked by a numerically superior NVA element.
Zabitosky rallied his team, deploying members to defensive positions. Exposing himself to concentrated enemy automatic weapons fire, SFC Zabitosky directed return fire while assessing the gravity of the situation. Too badly outnumbered to continue the engagement SFC Zabitosky gave the order to move to a rally point where they could be extracted via helicopter.
As the patrol moved to the landing zone for extraction, Zabitosky covered their withdrawal with rifle and grenade fire. Zabitosky rejoined his men at the LZ and positioned each man in a tight perimeter defense, moving from man to man, encouraging them and controlling their defensive fire.
As a result of Zabitosky’s courage and leadership, the outnumbered patrol maintained its precarious position until the arrival of tactical air support and a helicopter extraction team. The NVA pressed their attack when the rescue helicopters arrived, focusing their fire on the aircraft.
SFC Zabitosky put himself in an exposed position directing Helicopter Gunship fire around the landing zone, allowing his men to board the rescue birds. Once his men were clear, SFC Zabitosky boarded the last aircraft out and took up a position in the door where he continued to deliver covering fire as the helicopter pulled pitch.
Zabitosky’s bird was engulfed in fire as a hail of bullets, and rocket fire was pinpointed on the aircraft. Ejected from the spiraling Huey, SFC Zabitosky and beat it to the ground. Ignoring his injuries and severe burns, the young Green Beret, moved to the flaming wreckage.
Despite the exploding ordinance and burning Jet Fuel, Zabitosky extracted the severely wounded pilot from the searing blaze and made repeated attempts to rescue his patrol members. He was driven back by the intense heat.
Disregarding his own safety, his serious burns, and crushed ribs, SFC Zabitosky carried and dragged the unconscious pilot through a curtain of enemy fire to within 10 feet of a hovering rescue helicopter before collapsing.
The Huey crew was able to put the two wounded soldiers on board and deliver them to a field hospital where they recovered.
SFC Zabitosky remained in the Army achieving the rank of Seargent Major. He joined his fallen teammates on January 18, 1996.