After a 46-year wait Army Sgt. Robert French, was presented a Bronze
Star Medal for his actions in the Vietnam War by his wife Kaye during a
ceremony conducted by Army Maj. Gen. Karl R. Horst, U.S. Central Command
chief of staff, during a ceremony at the USCENTCOM Welcome Center March
“The real heroes are still over there; the ones who didn’t make it
back. I’m one of the lucky ones who made it back,” said French.
would have got it [the medal] in Vietnam, it wouldn’t have meant as much
to me then as it does today. I’m very happy to have my family and
friends here with me.”
Drafted into the Army, French served as a radioman with Company C,
9th Infantry Division with the Mobile Riverine Forces, which was based
on Navy ships in the South Vietnam Mekong Delta in 1967. On June 19,
French and approximately 300 soldiers walked into an ambush at Ap Bac
near the Mekong Delta. During the three-day battle 47 American were
killed, and French was shot in his back near his spine. Three of the
four helicopters sent in to rescue French and other wounded soldiers
were shot down.
After one of the helicopters went down, French was rescued by a
chaplain who pulled him out of the water. “I would have drowned if not
for him,” said the Carrollwood, Fla. resident in a Tampa Tribune
French and retired Army Maj. Jack Benedick, who served as French’s
platoon commander at the time, attended a reunion in 2000. During the
event, Benedick learned that neither French nor the other four service
members nominated for the award ever received the medal. In 2011,
Benedick started the process again. Two year later, with help from U.S.
Representative Gus Billirakis, from Florida’s 12th Congressional
District, and Army Command Sgt. Maj. Anthony Marrero, senior enlisted
leader to the USCENTCOM Headquarters Commandant, French, now 67,
received his award in front of his friends and family, including his
12-year-old granddaughter Amber.
“I’m really happy for my grandfather for getting this award. I’m
proud that he did it [served in Vietnam] because he wanted to, not
because he had to.” said Amber.
Horst said in his opening remarks the underlying theme of the
ceremony is it’s never too late to do the right thing, and today, 46
years later, the military did the right thing by presenting a Bronze
Star to Sgt. French.
“This was an award that he earned 46 years ago, and it has taken us
46 years to get it right,” said Horst. “Today is remembering the valor,
the heroism, the warrior ethos of a young noncommissioned officer who
lived to fight another day while many of his comrades did not.”
As of today, three of the five troops nominated for Bronze Stars for
their actions in 1967 have received their awards. The remaining two are
You see, this is a warrior that received the "Bronze Star," Purple Heart among other awards and they say the "new" Distinguished Warfare Medal for "drone" pilots out weighs this warriors actions? Does that make any freaking sense?
Time for a C-Gar