TSgt Michael P. Lutzko Jr – Vietnam Veteran, No Less a hero
When a military member goes to war, he or she has the knowledge in the back of their minds that their deployment might be the last. But often, when service members come home, death awaits them in the most innocuous ways, sometimes long after they’ve built new lives. Such is the passing of TSgt Michael P Lutzko Jr., Vietnam Veteran. He passed on May 9 from injuries sustained in a motorcycle ride with his VFW buddies in Waco, Texas.
Mike Lutzko spent 20 years in the US Air Force. During the Vietnam War in the Battle for Khe Sanh, he earned the Distinguished Flying Cross. The citation reads in part,
He “distinguished himself by extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight as a C-130 Loadmaster at Khe Sanh, Republic of Vietnam, on 23 February 1968. On that date, Sergeant Lutzko overcame numerous obstacles associated with a new aerial delivery system and flew a highly successful mission in support of the besieged Marine Base at Khe Sanh. Sergeant Lutzko’s unswerving dedication was conspicuously demonstrated when he delivered a load of invaluable cargo, despite the fact that heavy hostile fire had caused extensive damage to his aircraft’s fuel cells. The professional competence, aerial skill, and devotion to duty displayed by Sergeant Lutzko reflects great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.”
Not only did he complete that mission, but he helped rescue Marines out of a combat situation in May of 1968 when, in complete disregard for his own safety, he “immediately manned his aircraft and assisted in air-evacuating the endangered passengers, crew and aircraft to safety.” All while under heavy enemy fire.
Those who knew him say he never bragged about his award, nor did he act like he was better than anyone else. His friends at the local VFW called him “Trike Mike.” He was a member of numerous veteran and charitable organizations. Michael P. Lutzko Jr is not a household name, and like the thousands of other veterans who pass away every year, his name could be easily forgotten.
He is no less a hero because of the motorcycle accident that took his life, than he would have been had he died in combat. His friends and loved ones will not forget…neither will we.