JOINT BASE LEWIS McCHORD, Wash. – Two Vietnam veterans learned it’s never too late to honor a war hero.
Rick Adler and Gary Birka received Silver Star Medals Friday for their efforts on the battlefield more than 47 years ago.
“It’s amazing,” said Adler.
“It kind of feels good,” said Birka, who said veterans were not treated well when they returned from Vietnam.
The two infantrymen were credited with saving lives of fellow soldiers after their unit, the “Jungle Warriors,” were ambushed on August 29, 1969.
Both men were wounded, but continued to help others despite their injuries.
“Everyone saved lives that day,” said Adler.
It’s not clear if original applications for medals were lost, but when their commander, Tom Pearson, learned Adler and Birka had not been recognized, he made sure that was corrected.
While the veterans wished they didn’t have to wait so long, they said it was still an honor they appreciate.
“If it meant waiting 47 years, one month, and one day for that to happen,” said Adler, “Then I’m ok with that.”