Two veterans awarded Bronze Star
November 15, 2012
FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. (Nov. 15, 2012) -- Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski presented two Army veterans with the Bronze Star in a ceremony Friday morning at the Defense Information School.
Dr. Charles Rath Jr., 93, and Charles Shyab, 68, were each recognized for their respective meritorious service in World War II and Vietnam.
In her remarks before presenting the medals to the veterans, both residents of Silver Spring, Mikulski called the ceremony "very poignant and well-deserved" and the recognition "long overdue."
The Bronze Star is the fourth-highest award for bravery, heroism or meritorious service bestowed by the U.S. Armed Forces for service in or with the military after Dec. 6, 1941.
"I feel great," Rath said before the ceremony.
Rath said he felt honored, although it took more than 65 years to receive the medal,
"You got to stay alive 'till tomorrow," he said.
Although it took nearly 45 years for Shyab to receive the Bronze Star, he said he is fortunate.
"I am really surprised," Shyab said before the ceremony. "I am absolutely happy, excited and blessed. The Lord has definitely blessed me."
At the ceremony, DINFOS Commandant Col. Jeremy Martin welcomed the audience of garrison leaders, family members and DINFOS students.
In acknowledging Veterans Day, Martin said: "We can't help but pay homage and pay tribute to the great privilege that we have to serve a cause that is bigger than ourselves."
Martin called Rath and Shyab "American heroes and American treasures."
Rath, the son of Presbyterian missionaries, earned his undergraduate degree from the College of Wooster in Ohio, then attended what was then the Western Reserve School of Medicine in Cleveland. After completing his post-graduate training at Harvard Medical School, Rath was drafted in January 1944 at the age of 24.
A captain, Rath served for almost five months in active combat as the assistant regimental surgeon with the 253rd Infantry Regiment, 63rd Infantry Division. He was awarded the Bronze Star for his meritorious achievement while in support of the Blood and Fire Division's drive through Central Europe on April 1, 1945.
Mikulski said he "stood at his surgeon's table; he stood his ground to help those in need."
In presenting the medal to Rath, Mikulski said Rath served "to save Europe, to protect the United States and to save Western civilization."
A Seventh-day Adventist, Shyab attended what was then Columbia Union College in Takoma Park. After college, he worked for a year at Western Electric as a cable installer.
He was drafted in 1967 at age 22. A conscientious objector, Shyab served as a combat medic but did not carry a weapon.
A specialist, Shyab was the senior medic with Company C, 1st Infantry Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division in Vietnam. He was awarded the Bronze Star with "V" Device for his valorous achievement from April 26 to April 28, 1968 during the Battle of Chu Moor Mountain.
During the engagement, Shyab repeatedly exposed himself to small-arms enemy sniper and mortar fire to help wounded Soldiers. While treating casualties, Shyab was seriously wounded in the shoulder, thigh and knee by enemy fire and was forced to be evacuated.
Mikulski said Shyab's religious beliefs are "deeply rooted in the principles of nonviolence."
Although Shyab was a conscientious objector, Mikulski said "he did not object to serve his nation. He did not object to being in harm's way."
Martin pinned the Bronze Star on each recipient.
After presenting the medals, Mikulski gave Rath and Shyab each a folded flag that hung over the nation's capital in their honor. She also presented them with a certificate of appreciation on behalf of herself and the Senate.
"You most certainly deserve these medals," Mikulski said. "You deserve our gratitude."