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Medal heals Vietnam vet



Published: Tue, November 13, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Several othermilitary honors were presentedduring a ceremony.

By LAURE CIOFFI

VINDICATOR NEW CASTLE BUREAU

NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- David Hoover's wait is finally over.

On Monday, the Boyles Avenue resident received the Purple Heart award he should have gotten 33 years earlier when injured Aug. 3, 1968, in Con Thein, an area just south of the demilitarized zone that separated North and South Vietnam.

U.S. Rep. Melissa Hart of Bradford Woods, R-4th, gave Hoover his Purple Heart and a host of other medals during a ceremony at American Legion Post 343 in New Castle.

"It's really nice. Being when we came home from the [Vietnam] war, we weren't treated very nice, and we weren't getting the respect that we deserve," said Hoover, a Marine veteran who also celebrated his 54th birthday Monday.

Injury: Hoover was buried alive when a mortar shell hit his bunker on his first day back for his second tour of duty in Vietnam. It took his buddies nearly two hours to dig him out.

He spent about six months in a body cast before returning to military service as a Marine recruiter in New York City, but he never received the medal given to those injured in battle.

"I just never pursued it," Hoover said, noting the honor did go on his military record.

But when Hoover approached Hart about help with a veteran's disability claim, he mentioned the missing medal and others he never received.

Ceremony: Hart was able to get all of the medals for Monday's service. They included the Presidential Citation for Good Conduct, National Defense Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Combat Ribbon and the Marine Honorable Discharge Button.

"This area has been and is known for its exceptional strength and work ethic. It's also known for its exceptional patriotism," Hart said before giving Hoover his honors.

Hoover's son, Michael, an Air Force recruiter, watched proudly as his father accepted the honors.

"I'm glad its finally happened. It's long overdue. Military service is a family tradition. Words can't describe what happened here today. Being in the military, I know the significance of it," Michael Hoover said.

The New Castle Area Honor Guard conducted a ceremony before Hoover received his medals.

cioffi@vindy.com




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