John Levitow


US Air Force

Medal of Honor Recipient


On the night of Feb 24, 1969, Sgt. John Levitow and the crew of Spooky 71 were providing support to the besieged men defending the Long Binh Army base from a concentrated enemy attack. 
Levitow was tasked with prepping Mark 24 Magnesium flares which he would pass off to his gunner to throw them off the aircraft and provide illumination to the forces on the ground. 
All of a sudden, an enemy 82mm mortar struck the aircraft, severely wounding everyone on board including Levitow. 
The blast knocked out a prepped flare from the gunner's hands, and the live ordnance began rolling around the belly of the plane amidst 19,000 rounds of ammunition. 
Fighting the aircraft's 30-degree bank angle and with over 40 pieces of shrapnel lodged into his body, Levitow crawled towards the gunner who was hanging from the plane cargo door and pulled him back to safety. Despite the loss of blood and feeling on the right side of his body, he made his way towards the flare, hugged it with his body, and pushed it off the aircraft moments before it exploded. 
When the aircraft returned to base, the AC47 had sustained more than 3500 holes in the wings and fuselage. 
Levitow's actions and courage saved the lives of everyone on board, making him the lowest-ranked serviceman in the Air Force to receive the Medal of Honor. 

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