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Ewing, NJ 08628
On the 19th of February, 1968, at the height of the TET Offensive during the Vietnam War, Ewing's own Sergeant First Class Fred Zabitosky earned his nation's highest award for valor, the only person from Ewing to ever be so honored.
Fred William Zabitosky (October 27, 1942 – January 18, 1996)
"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." Source: http://www.history.army.mil/html/moh/vietnam-m-z.html#ZABITOSKY
For decades, a framed photograph of SFC Zabitosky, along with a photograph of his Army Medal of Honor, was installed in the vestibulte of the Township Municipal Building. Mayor Bert Steinmann and township officials have long felt that more needed to be done to show the respect and gratitude owed to SFC Zabitosky and to all the brave men and women of Ewing who have selflessly put their futures on hold, some sacrificing their future entirely, to answer their country's call.
Every resident of Ewing Township should know the name and the story of SFC Zabitosky, and through him all of Ewing's veterans. Sadly, SFC Zabitosky passed away in January of 1996, at the age of 53. October 27, 2017, a Friday, would have been his 75th birthday and township officials determined to ensure that his service, his valor, and his sacrifice will never be forgotten.A dedication ceremony for SPC Zabitosky's new memorial display was held on Saturday, October 28, 2017 with members of the public and armed forces invited. Videos of the event are available on Youtube.
For more information about SFC Zabitosky see the following: