A McChord airman was awarded the Bronze Star medal Friday for his valorous actions while gathering intelligence on roadside bombs in Iraq.
In a separate ceremony at the base, a retired tech sergeant finally received the Purple Heart he earned in Vietnam nearly 36 years ago.
|U.S. Air Force photos/Abner Guzman|
Tech. Sgt. Lawrence Godin, assigned to the 62nd Operations Support Squadron, served on an IED intelligence-gathering team with a soldier and two other airmen from August 2006 to February out of FOB Paliwoda in Balad. According to a McChord news release, Godin and his team members survived a bomb attack on their vehicle and opened fire on the insurgents, disabling their vehicle. Three men were later captured in connection with the attack. Godin’s team was responsible for a large reduction in IED attacks along an alternate supply route, according to the McChord release.
James Hogue of Bellingham, who retired as a tech sergeant in 1976 after 22 years in the service, was wounded on what was to have been his last night in Vietnam in June 1971. He was stationed at Phan Rang Air Base with the 14th Field Maintenance Squadron. The night before he was to ride the freedom bird home, a grenade blew up near him, spattering his chest with shrapnel.
To this day Hogue said he still doesn’t know what happened.
“I just know it was a big explosion and I was blown through the air, and I woke up next in Cam Ranh Bay hospital,” he said Friday.
Last year he filed for military records under the Freedom of Information Act in hopes of piecing together what happened that night. Along the way, an Air Force official determined that Hogue was owed a Purple Heart medal – awarded to U.S. service members wounded in action. It had been lost in the paperwork shuffle that followed his evacuation home and then movement from one assignment to the next.
“I didn’t start out looking for a Purple Heart,” said Hogue, 70.
He’s still hoping to fill in the details of what happened that night in Vietnam.