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Vietnam vet gets Purple Heart after 39 years

Soldier served 21 years after being hurt in 1970

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POSTED: April 1, 2009 11:08 a.m.
Photo by Frenchi Jones/

Sgt. (ret) Charles Wood stands with relatives after Saturday's ceremony.

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Charles Wood is not a man of many words, especially about his service in Vietnam.
“I did what I had to do,” he said about his experience.
His wife Wynde Wood is more vocal about Wood’s service and his accomplishments.
She said he did more than just what he had to.
“He was drafted in 1964. He went to Vietnam and extended his first tour, and then he volunteered to go back to Vietnam for a second tour.”
And as if that was not enough, Wynde Wood said he continued to serve his country for 21 years after he was wounded in combat in 1970.
“He was on a road-clearing detail,” she said. “It was his turn to sleep in the back of one of the vehicles and he had his head propped on one of his hands. A mortar came in and blew up his hand, right in front of his face.
“It crushed all the bones in his right hand, none of them are where they are supposed to be.”
Wynde Wood said her husband’s injuries never stopped him from being the best soldier he could in the U.S. Army.
His bravery was unwavering, according to her, and his humbleness kept him from pressing for the medal he much deserved.
“He was supposed to have received a Purple Heart and no one from his unit did the paperwork,” she said. “His attitude at first was that it was just a medal, but I felt like he really deserved this and so I kept pushing.”
Wynde Wood kept the momentum going and with help from the Disabled American Veterans, her husband received his medal of valor on Saturday, 39 years after sustaining his debilitating injury.

Under the dim lights in the fellowship hall of St. Phillips Episcopal Church, surrounded by friends and family, the medal was presented to him by Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo, commanding officer of the 3rd Infantry Division.
Cucolo said that while the Army missed the mark 39 years ago, Woods receiving the medal in 2009 was significant. 
“It’s the year of the non-commissioned officer. This is the year the Army has said, ‘we have something the rest of the world does not have, a professional NCO corps,’ and the fact that you’re getting your medal in the year of the NCO just makes it all that much more special … because we are your legacy,” he said.
In response, Wood said, “thank you.”

 

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