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First Name: Fred

Last Name: Zabitosky

Birthplace: Trenton, NJ, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Home of Record: Trenton, NJ
Middle Name: William

Date of Birth: 27 October 1942

Date of Death: 18 January 1996

Rank: Master Sergeant

Years Served: 1959 - 1989
Fred William Zabitosky

•  Vietnam War (1960 - 1973)


Fred William 'Zab' Zabitosky
Master Sergeant, U.S. Army
Medal of Honor Recipient
Vietnam War

Master Sergeant Fred William 'Zab' Zabitosky (27 October 1942 - 18 January 1996) was a U.S. Army soldier and a recipient of the U.S. military's highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor, for his actions during the Vietnam War.

Fred William Zabitosky was born on 27 October 1942 in Trenton, NJ. He joined the Army from Trenton in 1959. On 19 February 1968, he was serving as a Staff Sergeant with the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne). While on a reconnaissance patrol in Laos that day, his small team came under intense enemy fire. Zabitosky directed the defense until rescue helicopters arrived, and when the helicopter that was to extract him from the battlefield crashed, he ignored his own injuries to save the downed craft's pilot. Zabitosky was later promoted to Sergeant First Class and, in 1969, was presented with the Medal of Honor by President Richard Nixon.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Sergeant First Class (then S/Sgt.), U.S. Army, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne).

Place and date: Republic of Vietnam, 19 February 1968.

Entered service at: Trenton, NJ. Born: 27 October 1942, Trenton, NJ.

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Sfc. Zabitosky, U.S. Army, distinguished himself while serving as an assistant team leader of a 9-man Special Forces long-range reconnaissance patrol. Sfc. Zabitosky's patrol was operating deep within enemy-controlled territory when they were attacked by a numerically superior North Vietnamese Army unit. Sfc. Zabitosky rallied his team members, deployed them into defensive positions, and, exposing himself to concentrated enemy automatic weapons fire, directed their return fire. Realizing the gravity of the situation, Sfc. Zabitosky ordered his patrol to move to a landing zone for helicopter extraction while he covered their withdrawal with rifle fire and grenades. Rejoining the patrol under increasing enemy pressure, he positioned each man in a tight perimeter defense and continually moved from man to man, encouraging them and controlling their defensive fire. Mainly due to his example, the outnumbered patrol maintained its precarious position until the arrival of tactical air support and a helicopter extraction team. As the rescue helicopters arrived, the determined North Vietnamese pressed their attack. Sfc. Zabitosky repeatedly exposed himself to their fire to adjust suppressive helicopter gunship fire around the landing zone. After boarding 1 of the rescue helicopters, he positioned himself in the door delivering fire on the enemy as the ship took off. The helicopter was engulfed in a hail of bullets and Sfc. Zabitosky was thrown from the craft as it spun out of control and crashed. Recovering consciousness, he ignored his extremely painful injuries and moved to the flaming wreckage. Heedless of the danger of exploding ordnance and fuel, he pulled the severely wounded pilot from the searing blaze and made repeated attempts to rescue his patrol members but was driven back by the intense heat. Despite his serious burns and crushed ribs, he carried and dragged the unconscious pilot through a curtain of enemy fire to within 10 feet of a hovering rescue helicopter before collapsing. Sfc. Zabitosky's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.

Fred William Zabitosky was presented with his Medal on 7 March 1969 by President Richard M. Nixon in the East Ballroom at the White House.

Zabitosky retired from the Army with the rank of Master Sergeant in 1989 after 30 years of service.

Medals and Awards

Medal of Honor
Bronze Star
Purple Heart


The former Community Access Road, near Fort Bragg, was named in his honor.

Death and Burial

Master Sergeant Fred William 'Zab' Zabitosky died on 18 January 1996, at age 53. He is buried at Lumbee Memorial Park in Lumberton, NC in the Mausoleum, Level C, #33.

Origin of Nickname/Handle:
Shortened version of his last name.

Honoree ID: 1124   Created by: MHOH




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