Almost a half century late, this veteran is finally getting the recognition he deserves.
Sam Farris of Hurt, Virginia, a Vietnam veteran, was 19 years old when his unit came under attack at the Cambodian border. A mortar explosion killed about half his unit, and left him wounded with shrapnel in his hands, WSLS reported. While Farris was eligible for a Purple Heart medal, he never received or heard anything about the award. A few years ago, his former battery commanders learned that Farris wasn't given the honor he deserved, according to the Altavista Journal. With their help, the Army review board approved Farris for the award this spring, and in late October, the veteran was formally presented his Purple Heart in a ceremony 47 years after his time in Vietnam.
"It’s still hard to wrap my hands around it that I got it after all these years. It seems odd," Farris told the Altavista Journal of receiving the award.
Farris, now 67, said that when he left Vietnam, he was not concerned with the Purple Heart, and was happy to be back on American soil. It wasn't until he attended a unit reunion with his son four years ago that he raised the issue concerning the medal to his former battery commander, Robert Barrett, Danville Register & Bee reported.
Barrett assured the 67-year-old that he would make sure he received the honor. While an X-ray showing shrapnel lodged in Farris' hands was not enough for the review board to approve the award, it was a letter from Michael George, a battery commander, along with Barrett's help, that eventually got Harris approved for the Purple Heart, along with slew of other medals that he was supposed to have received, including a Presidential Unit Citation and an Army Commendation Medal.
Farris told WSLS that finally receiving his Purple Heart this year was a satisfying feeling.
"It's been a long time coming but it feels alright," the veteran told WSLS.