West Virginia Congressman awards Purple Heart to Vietnam veteran
By JORDAN NELSON | The Register-Herald, Beckley, W.Va. | Published: May 17, 2017
BECKLEY, W. Va. (Tribune News Service) — Nearly 50 years ago, Dewey Brian Thompson Jr. was injured in Vietnam. Tuesday, he received the Purple Heart awarded to military personnel wounded in battle.
U.S. Congressman Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va., made the presentation to the Sophia veteran Tuesday. Thompson was wounded Oct. 4, 1968, causing great injury to his arm.
“It is now 2017, so you do the math,” said Jenkins. “This is long overdue, and it is an honor and recognition to acknowledge Dewey and thank him for his service.”
Thompson said he is only one of the few fortunate enough to be recognized for their service. “There are so many veterans from the Vietnam era that have never been recognized, so my prayers and thoughts go out to them.”
“This day means so much to me, it is so great to accept this because so many of us don’t receive recognition,” said Thompson.
Jenkins, born and raised in The Mountain State, and an advocate for veterans, said working in Congress gives him more opportunity to give back to his community, allowing him to appeal to the U.S. Navy on Thompson’s behalf for the Purple Heart he deserved.
“Dewey deserves it, and today he gets it,” Jenkins said while passing Thompson his Purple Heart.
Jenkins said we as a country, and himself as a policymaker, should be doing everything we can to say thank you and say we are a grateful nation to our veterans.
“One of the really moving experiences being in Washington is going down and spending time by the Vietnam Memorial,” Jenkins said. “I know many of you have seen those sacred grounds, and those names etched in that black granite.”
Jenkins compared the shape of the Vietnam Memorial to an open wound and said we are all still wounded over the recognition the veterans did not receive.
“We know our country did a real disservice to our veterans coming home from Vietnam,” said Jenkins. “They did not get the homecoming, the welcome, and the hero’s return they so greatly deserved.”
“Dewey, we are a grateful nation, we thank you for your service, and we appreciate you putting your life on the line for our country,” said Jenkins.
When Thompson was asked what his next move would be, he said, “It’s just the same ol’, same ol’ for me, I’m going to do the best I can for as long as I can,” with a big laugh.
Thompson served in four different branches while in Vietnam.