Vietnam Veteran Receives Bronze Star, Thanks to A Loyal and Dedicated Friend
April 2, 2012
WASHINGTON (April 2, 2012) -- An Army veteran who helped close down the final operations of the Vietnam War 40 years ago was given a long overdue honor.
MAJ (Ret) Harold Brown, Jr., of Grand Praire, Texas, received the Bronze Star Medal from LTG Raymond Mason, Deputy Chief of Staff Logistics, G-4, at the Pentagon on Friday. The pinning was part of the retirement ceremony Mason was hosting for COL David Whitaker, who in his final act before taking off his Army uniform, wanted to help the Army correct a 40-year-old error.
Brown served honorably in the Vietnam War, commanding two companies simultaneously (the 304th S&S Company, and the 552d Light Maintenance Company.) He volunteered to take command after there was an attempt on the commander's life.
He eliminated racial tensions in the units, and these units went on to close down the final operations in Vietnam in a professional and dignified manner. This was a testament to his outstanding leadership in a combat environment.
The award for such service is a Bronze Star Medal, but unfortunately Brown's award was never processed. This was due to the quick drawdown of forces in 1972, where units were literally deactivating in days and returning home.
When Brown told his old neighbor and friend, COL Whitaker, what happened many years ago, Whitaker wanted to correct the mistake. He did some painstaking research. He tracked down Brown's former chain of command, and with their help, and the help of Congress, was able to get the award for Brown.
Among those Whitaker tracked down was Brown's old boss in Vietnam, LTC (RET) Don Amador, who now lives in Victorville, California. The two had not seen each other in years. Amador surprised Brown by attending the ceremony, and helping pin the Bronze Star Medal on him.
LTG Mason said this is a great example of Soldiers always taking care of their fellow Soldiers and family.
"In the 25 years COL Whitaker has served in the Army, he has exhibited many traits that make him a great Soldier, but the two that stand out the most are loyalty and dedication," Mason said. "He stays in touch with old friends, and that loyalty continued on to this final day of his service."
Amador explained that the scene in Vietnam was chaotic. "We were here today and gone tomorrow," he said. "I am just glad we were able to finally take care of it."
Brown said: "I just want to say thank you to the United States Army and to our Nation."