50 years later, Vietnam vet receives Purple Heart

Julia LeDoux
May 13, 2019 - 3:40 pm
Shelton, Portman, veterans

Sen. Rob Portmans office

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Five decades after being injured in Vietnam, Army Staff Sgt. Timothy Shelton’s service was honored when he received the Purple Heart and five other military awards for heroism.

Shelton, who is from Ohio, enlisted in the Army in 1968. According to Stars and Stripes, he was wounded when a land mine exploded while he was on patrol in Chu Lai. The blast killed one of Shelton’s platoon members and injured six others. Following his recovery, Shelton served as a drill sergeant at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri before being discharged from the Army in 1971.

While he was being discharged, a clerk mistakenly found no evidence that Shelton had ever been wounded. Instead of arguing his case and pushing to have his military record corrected, Shelton opted to keep silent and not say anything more about it. 

"I said the hell with it, and came home," Shelton said.

Fast forward more than 50 years. Shelton recently needed assistance regarding a disability claim and reached out to Sen. Rob Portman’s, R-OH, office for help. Portman’s office obtained a DVD of Shelton’s military record, which showed he had been wounded.

“He served his country in Vietnam," Portman said during the ceremony. "He served honorably and he did his duty and for us he has earned the Purple Heart.”

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Shelton also received the Vietnam Service Medal with three Bronze Service Stars, the Combat Infantryman Badge, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Ribbon and the Marksman Badge with Rifle Bar and Machine Gun Bar during the ceremony.

"I don't think I need to be recognized," Shelton said. "This isn't about me. The guys who need the credit didn't come home."

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