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Vietnam vet's life still an inspiration


By Melissa Maynarich, NEWS 9

More than 40 years since his death, one Oklahoma war veteran is still inspiring others.

Captain Riley Pitts was the first African-American to be awarded the Medal of Honor for his service in Vietnam. His legacy has lived on in his hometown of Oklahoma City, Okla. and beyond.

Capt. Riley Pitts led an assault in Vietnam and was mortally wounded in 1967. He was honored for his extraordinary heroism and intrepidity, above and beyond the call of duty.

"He makes a difference, because he communicated to the young, specifically African-Americans," said his son Mark Pitts. "And more so, hopefully, African-American males--what you can accomplish if you get an education."

Pitts' memory has been honored numerous times Since the day Eula Pitts, his widow, visited President Lyndon Johnson in 1968 to accept the Medal of Honor, his memory has been recognized several times.

Newspaper clippings document Army command buildings in his name; streets and parks are named for the captain; and a scholarship was established at the University of Oklahoma in his name. NEWS 9 caught the dedication of a classroom at Douglass High School to Pitts in 1992, his alma mater.

"His contribution is an example of a hero that belongs to our city," said Mark Pitts.

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