By Petty Officer 2nd Class Steven L. Shepard (Presidio of Monterey)November 17, 2009
PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. - Presidio of Monterey representatives turned out to recognize two Vietnam War heroes, including one Medal of Honor recipient, during an event at the Monterey History and Maritime Museum recently.
The POM service members participated in a ceremony marking the 40th year reunion of the 9th Infantry Division. The event was part of the City of Monterey's observance of Vietnam History Day Oct. 27.
Members of the 229th Military Intelligence Battalion Color Guard were on hand for the ceremony that included re-presentations of the Medal of Honor and Distinguished Service Cross to 9th Infantry Division veterans in the presence of original members of the unit.
Don Jenkins was originally awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions on Jan. 6, 1969, in the Kien Phong Province, Vietnam.
However, it would not be until two years later that Jenkins finally received official recognition for his actions when President Richard M. Nixon presented him with the award during a ceremony at the White House in 1971.
For the veterans in attendance at the Maritime Museum this was the first opportunity to see the award presented. Don Jenkins is one of only 95 Medal of Honor recipients who are still alive today.
Gary Reed said in a statement on behalf of Jenkins, who was unable to attend: "There is not a day goes by that I do not remember those actions of January 6, 1969."
Reed also accepted a plaque for Jenkins from the City of Monterey that was presented by Monterey Vice Mayor Nancy Selfridge.
"Our nation is grateful to the Soldiers who defended it, and we thank these Soldiers for their outstanding service to our country," Selfridge said during a speech describing the heroic actions of the 9th Infantry Division that took place in 1969.
Additionally, the Distinguished Service Cross was presented to Edward Carnes by 229th MI Bn. Commander Lt. Col David P. Jewell for Carnes' actions during the same firefight in January 1969. Carnes took command of the 9th Infantry after their commanding officer was killed in action.
The event was organized by former 9th Infantry Division Commanding Officer Paul Boczkowski.
About the event, Boczkowski said, "A great amount of healing goes on as we share our stories and painful moments." He added that "We talk about and honor our friends who never came home."
While much has changed during the last 40 years, Boczkowski pointed out the impact the Vietnam War continues to have on the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and those service members serving overseas.
"Because of the public sentiment at the time, when we came back from the Vietnam War we were almost ashamed to say we served our country," said Boczkowski. "I think America has learned a lesson from that, and today we know to honor those returning from war."
Summing up the importance of the day's event, Sgt. Maj. David Ford, from the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center, said that "Every veteran deserves a great welcome home and a great ceremony. These men are heroes."