I don’t remember any of us guys ever talking about the possibility of any sort of medals being awarded, other than the CIB (combat infantryman’s badge), which I think most of us had already received. It was just something that never crossed my mind until just before leaving Vietnam when the Platoon Sergeant informed me that he was putting me in for the Good Conduct medal and also the ArCom (Army Commendation) medal. It just seemed ironic to me that after all the trouble I got myself into, that the Army would consider me for the good conduct medal!
I had no idea what the ArCom medal was but the Sergeant said not to count on receiving it because it’s “a pretty high up there” medal which is a hard one to get. He told me that he himself was submitted for the ArCom twice before and didn’t get it, so I didn’t give it any more thought. I was just happy that I received the CIB.
A few months after I was home from the war and already out of the service, I started receiving documentation in the mail from the Army stating that I had been awarded several medals. It was completely unexpected. I was surprised…no… I was shocked!
Not only did I receive the Good Conduct medal and the ArCom medal, I was also awarded an even “higher up there” one, a Bronze Star medal !
The country was torn apart by this war and at the same time the Army was sending these distinguished medals that they said I earned during this war. My thoughts were torn, I didn’t know what to think or how I felt about any of it. I stashed my medals and documents away in a drawer.
Four decades later, and now a Grandfather, I retrieved my medals from that drawer where they had been stored. I showed them to my kids and grandkids, and with tentative pride, I put them on display honorably for the first time.