Served as Chief Master Sergeant United States Air Force assigned to the 1043d Radar Evaluation Squadron. He was stationed at the radar site, Lima 85 about 12 miles west of the Lao/NVN border in Phou Pha Thi, Laos. While manning a defensive position at the classified site, it was overrun by enemy ground forces after a previous air attempt to destroy the site. He continued fire on the enemy forces denying them access to the site as well as communication calling for an air rescue. The helicopter arrived and he helped two men stationed at the site; SSgt John Daniel and Capt Stanley J Sliz who were injured on the mountain ledge aboard the rescue. He was hit by gunfire that came through the floor of the helicopter and died minutes later. Eleven men were killed when the site was attacked; LTC Clarence F Blanton, MSGT James H Calfee, SSGT James W Davis, SSGT Henry G Gish, TSGT Willis R Hall, TSGT Melvin A Holland, TSGT Herbert A Kirk, A1C David Stanley Price, TSGT Patrick L Shannon, who was repatriated, TSGT Donald K Springsteadah, SSGT Don F Worley. Capt Donald E Westbrook was lost when his A-1E Skyraider was shot down two days later. On September 21, 2010, Etchberger's Congressional Medal of Honor was posthumously awarded to his family by President Barack Obama at the White House.