By Jessica Tuggle
COCOA -- The year was 1971. The place was Vietnam.
United States Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jack Proctor's job was to protect and watch out for his men maintaining the equipment to build a highway through the Central Highlands, but matters were complicated during a skirmish where two soldiers were seriously wounded.
While waiting for a response from a Medevac team, CW2 Proctor helped company medics in caring for the men. Instead of giving up hope when the helicopter team was grounded due to heavy rains, CW2 Proctor requested aid from another helicopter team he had spotted in the distance.
The team abandoned their own mission to transport the soldiers to a hospital. One soldier survived.
All of that was more than 40 years ago, but last week, that story was retold in front of a group of other Vietnam veterans during a medal ceremony for the now retired CW3 Proctor.
Thanks to the work of the office of Congressman Bill Posey, R-Rockledge, Mr. Proctor, now residing in Cocoa, received his Bronze Star Medal, 43 years after he was recommended for the honor.
On July 1 at the National Navy UDT-Seal Museum in Fort Pierce, the congressman thanked Mr. Proctor for his exceptional service.
One of the best parts about his job in Congress is having the opportunity to help people like Mr. Proctor get the honor due to them, Congressman Posey said.
After he finished his service, Mr. Proctor was recommended for the Bronze Star Medal for exceptionally meritorious conduct but like many other veterans before him, the medals were never presented to him.
At the suggestion of a friend, Mr. Proctor took his medal story to the congressman's office and the staff helped them work through the issue until all the papers were signed and the medal finally made ready.
One of the hurdles they faced was finding living commanding officers that could verify Mr. Proctor's account of the events that led to the recommendation.
"Congressman Posey didn't give up on me. Thank you very much," Mr. Proctor said.
At the end of the ceremony, all of the veterans in the crowd gave Mr. Proctor a solemn and dignified hand salute.
Marty Zickert, president of the Veterans Council of Indian River County and the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 1038, said he was very proud to be a part of the special occasion.
"Whenever we can honor a veteran, especially a Vietnam veteran, it's a good day," Mr. Zickert said.
To contact Congressman Posey's Brevard office, call (772) 632-1776.
For more information about the National Navy UDT-Seal Museum, call (772) 595-5845 or visit www.navysealmuseum.com.