Face of Defense: Vietnam Vet Regains Long-lost Bronze Star

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md., Aug. 30, 2011 — More than 40 years ago, Army 1st Lt. Robert C. Berk­shire earned a Bronze Star Medal for val­or dur­ing his ser­vice in Viet­nam.

Army 1st Lt. Robert C. Berk­shire takes a break dur­ing his deploy­ment to Viet­nam in 1970. Berk­shire recent­ly received a new Bronze Star Medal — the orig­i­nal had been stolen along with his duf­fle bag at the end of his Viet­nam tour of duty — to replace the one he’d earned more than 40 years ago.
Cour­tesy pho­to
Click to enlarge

On his way state­side fol­low­ing his Viet­nam tour of duty, Berkshire’s duf­fel bag was stolen — in the duf­fel bag was his Bronze Star. He nev­er saw his medal again. After his hon­or­able dis­charge from the Army in 1971, Berk­shire nev­er said any­thing to his fam­i­ly or friends about the loss of his award. How­ev­er, about a year ago, the sub­ject of his mil­i­tary career came up while he was talk­ing with David Kurk, a friend and fel­low civil­ian employ­ee in the lab­o­ra­to­ry at the U.S. Army Pub­lic Health Com­mand here. 

Berk­shire told his friend about the loss of his Bronze Star and showed him the award certificate. 

Berk­shire explained that in June 1970 he and his pla­toon had flanked and destroyed an ene­my posi­tion. Under heavy ene­my fire, he’d also direct­ed a med­ical evac­u­a­tion of two wound­ed pla­toon mem­bers. Kurk was deter­mined to see if he could help his friend be rec­og­nized for his hero­ic actions dur­ing the oper­a­tion in Viet­nam and replace his stolen medal. 

Work­ing with Berkshire’s daugh­ter, Alyson Berk­shire, Kurk took action to have his friend recognized. 

“No one in the fam­i­ly had heard about Dad’s Bronze Star,” Alyson said. “My par­ents have always been my heroes, and I want­ed to make sure Dad could be hon­ored as one.” 

Work­ing with Com­mand Sgt. Maj. Ger­ald C. Eck­er, the Pub­lic Health Command’s com­mand sergeant major, Alyson and Kurk pro­vid­ed the paper­work nec­es­sary to secure a replace­ment Bronze Star. Lovet­ta Brit­ton, the command’s pro­to­col offi­cer, arranged a sur­prise award ceremony. 

On Aug. 17, Army Brig. Gen. Tim­o­thy K. Adams, com­man­der of the Pub­lic Health com­mand, host­ed the award cer­e­mo­ny to hon­or Berkshire’s hero­ism. Berk­shire was told his daugh­ter was receiv­ing an award, and that he was invit­ed to par­tic­i­pate in the ceremony. 

Dur­ing the cer­e­mo­ny, Adams turned to the Army vet­er­an. “I under­stand you were in the Army and served in Viet­nam,” he said, “and I heard that you also lost something.” 

Berk­shire, still unaware of the sur­prise pre­sen­ta­tion, thought Adams was refer­ring to his recent hip surgery and replied, “Yes, I lost a piece of my hip.” Adams then told Berk­shire he’d receive a new Bronze Star Medal to replace the one stolen from him more than 40 years before. 

“Your ser­vice to our coun­try should be remem­bered and cel­e­brat­ed,” Adams said. “It is my priv­i­lege to give you this award for your service.” 

Berk­shire said he was stunned by the commander’s words and the stand­ing ova­tion from friends, fam­i­ly and co-work­ers at the award presentation. 

“For you and every­one else to work so hard in replac­ing the medal that was so pre­cious to me and that I thought I would nev­er see again, I was basi­cal­ly speech­less,” Berk­shire said to the gen­er­al. “Please accept my deep­est grat­i­tude for your gra­cious act.” 

Eck­er summed up the event’s purpose. 

“When an act of self­less ser­vice to our nation has been ful­filled, it is nev­er too late to ren­der hon­ors and grat­i­tude for the ser­vice,” he said. 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

Face­book and/or on Twit­ter

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist GlobalDefence.net im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. GlobalDefence.net war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →