As of Wednesday, though, and after a surprising realization on the part of a veterans’ benefits coordinator, McBride was awarded what should have been his years ago — the Purple Heart.
“This is one tax day I’ll never forget,” McBride said modestly. “I just went out and did my job. I never thought twice about it. I was one of the lucky ones, too.”
McBride, who served as a Specialist Fourth Grade in C Company, 544th Engineer Battalion, was accompanied Wednesday by close friends and family members as he received the prestigious award from Sen. Harry Reid. While McBride’s discharge papers issued in June 1968 did recommend a Purple Heart for his service, the award was somehow overlooked, said John Hansen, the National Services Officer for Disabled American Veterans.
Hansen had been reviewing McBride’s claim for veteran’s benefits earlier last year when he noticed the discrepancy.
“This is the first case that I’ve run into like this,” Hansen said. “But things do happen. I feel great though to finally help him get the award he deserves. When I originally told him, I think he was about to cry.”
Hansen then contacted Sen. Reid’s office to officially authorize the award.
“We often forget, especially with the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, that 54,000 Americans were killed in the Vietnam War,” Reid said. “McBride survived, but he was injured in battle and he should have gotten this award years ago. I’m happy I played a part in him getting his medal.”
McBride, whose 92-year old WWII veteran father was present at the award ceremony, originally volunteered for the armed services and was unaware that he had been recommended for the Purple Heart when he was injured.
“It’s been a long time,” McBride said. “But I wasn’t expecting it. I’d be more than happy to give this up though to get all those other guys home today.”
When asked what he was going to do with his award, McBride said he would be giving it to his wife, Barbara.
“He’s very loving,” Barbara said of her husband. “And he’s very patriotic. I’m just relieved right now. It’s been a long time coming.”