NEW CASTLE Vet to receive Purple Heart
The medal recipient was buried alive 33 years ago and spent months in a body cast.
By PETER H. MILLIKEN
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- A Marine veteran of the Vietnam War will receive a long overdue medal from a member of Congress in a ceremony Monday that will coincide with his 54th birthday.
David Hoover, of New Castle, who was wounded Aug. 3, 1968, when he was buried alive in a bunker that collapsed after taking a direct hit from a mortar shell, will receive the Purple Heart from U.S. Rep. Melissa Hart, R-4th, of Bradford Woods.
Ceremony: The ceremony will be at 11:45 a.m. at American Legion Post 343, 134 N. Jefferson St. The Italian American War Veterans of Lawrence County will conduct a color guard ceremony. Hoover, a self-employed sign painter, is a member of the Disabled American Veterans in Ellwood City.
"It's just more like closure to the war -- getting the medal that never caught up with me," Hoover said in a telephone interview Friday evening.
"It ended up on my military record, but the actual medal never caught up," Hoover said, explaining that he was evacuated from Vietnam quickly after being injured.
Base camp: The bunker, located at Con Thien, a little more than two miles south of the demilitarized zone that separated North and South Vietnam, was in one of the most heavily shelled base camps in Vietnam, he said.
It took Hoover's Marine buddies an hour and a half to two hours to dig him out of the bunker. He was flown by helicopter to Da Nang, and then by plane to Japan and the U.S. Naval Hospital at Bethesda, Md. His upper right leg was broken in two places, and he spent six months in a body cast, he recalled.
"We don't want to forget our heritage. We need to stand united, and Veterans Day is a good way to do that," Hoover said.
"I think it's good that we have a friend like Melissa Hart in Congress and her staff. She cares about the American veterans, past present and future," he concluded.