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46 Years Later, Army Veteran Larry Burton receives Purple Heart


Burton was honorably discharged from the Army in May 1969, but he had never received his Purple Heart because of a clerical error. 'The Army righted that wrong, and we are going to finish it up' - VFW POST 6097 COMMANDER JOE HARE
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By Duane Bonifer

COLUMBIA, KY - Almost a half-century after he was wounded serving his country, an Adair County Army veteran was recognized Wednesday for the sacrifices he made in Vietnam.

Larry Burton of Columbia, who was a private in the Army's 506th Infantry, was awarded a Purple Heart at Lindsey Wilson College's annual Veterans Appreciation Luncheon, more than 46 years after being wounded in battle.

As Army veteran Joe Hare of Columbia VFW Post 6097 told a packed room of more than 180 guests, the event helped correct a wrong.


"The Army righted that wrong, and we are going to finish it up," Hare said.

Burton was injured in a battle on July 22, 1968, near Cu Chi, South Vietnam. As his company moved on a village, they ran into a well-entrenched company of North Vietnamese Regulars.

"They were the big boys ... they were respected soldiers, I'll give them that," Hare said during the ceremony.

Burton was shot by enemy forces after he had volunteered to resupply two of his platoons with ammunition. Although wounded several times, the orders report that Burton "continued to move forward until he lost consciousness." His "personal bravery and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit and the United States Army," according to the orders.

Burton was honorably discharged from the Army in May 1969, but he never received a Purple Heart because of a clerical error.

About a year ago, Hare led an effort to get the oversight corrected.

"Right at 10 months later, Joe calls me up one day, 'Joe, I got it,'" Hare recalled during the ceremony.

Ironically, the order awarding Burton the Purple Heart was cut July 22, 2014 -- 46 years to the day after his injury. "We thought that was pretty cool," Hare said.

During Wednesday's ceremony, Burton was officially presented the Purple Heart by veteran Joe Fair of Campbellsville, Ky., who was a sergeant in the Army during the Vietnam War.

"It's just an honor to be able to do this," Fair said.

Burton told the audience that "it's quite an honor" to finally receive the Purple Heart he earned more than four decades ago in Southeast Asia.

He said that in many ways, the 46-year wait was worth it because he got to receive the honor in his hometown.

"I thought, 'You know if the Army had given my Purple Heart when I had it coming, it'd be some colonel (who would) come by and pin it on my chest and salute me for my service. I'd never see him again, probably couldn't remember his name,'" he said. "Maybe it was meant to be done on a day like this. ... I'm sure this is a lot better than some colonel coming by and pinning this on me. ... I think this is better than getting a Purple Heart pinned on me in Vietnam, I really do."

The day Burton was injured, he was one of 24 soldiers in his company who wounded; 17 were killed. "That was not our worst battle," he said.

And Burton said he never stops thinking about his brothers in arms.

"All these years, I think about them every day," he said. "I kind of have a little guilty feeling -- why did I make it, and why did they die? You think about what I could have done that day to save them."



This story was posted on 2014-11-13 05:25:30
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Larry Burton Receives His Purple Heart



2014-11-13 - Cranmer Dining Center, 430 Helen Flatt Drive, Columbia, kY - Photo by Duane Bonifer.
Army veteran Joe Fair of Campbellsville, KY, pins the Purple Heart on the chest of fellow Army veteran Larry Burton of Columbia, more than 46 years after Burton earned the decoration. The pinning took place Wednesday, November 12, 2014 during the Lindsey Wilson College Veterans Appreciation Luncheon in Roberta D. Cranmer Dining & Conference Center. - DUANE BONIFER

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Army veteran Larry Burton Speaks to Crowd at Ceremony



2014-11-13 - Cranmer Dining Center, 430 Helen Flatt Drive, Columbia, kY - Photo by Duane Bonifer.
Army veteran Larry Burton
of Columbia addresses the Lindsey Wilson College Veterans Appreciation Luncheon Wednesday, November 12, 2014, in Roberta D. Cranmer Dining & Conference Center, a few minutes after officially receiving a Purple Heart he earned in 1968. Looking on are his wife, Julie, and granddaughter, Morgan McKown of Kokomo, IN. - DUANE BONIFER

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Joe Hare of Columbia VFW Post 6097



2014-11-13 - Cranmer Dining Center, 430 Helen Flatt Drive, Columbia, kY - Photo by Duane Bonifer.
Army veteran Joe Hare of Columbia VFW Post 6097 speaks about fellow Army veteran Larry Burton of Columbia, as Burton's wife, Julie, and granddaughter, Morgan McKown of Kokomo, IN, look on Wednesday at the Lindsey Wilson College Veterans Appreciation Luncheon Wednesday, November 12, 2014, in Roberta D. Cranmer Dining and Conference Center. - DUANE BONIFER

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Veterans Richard Schmidt, Purple Heart Recipient Larry Burton



2014-11-13 - Cranmer Dining Center, 430 Helen Flatt Drive, Columbia, kY - Photo by Duane Bonifer.
Marines veteran Richard Schmidt
of Louisville, KY, right, speaks to Army veteran Larry Burton of Columbia following the Lindsey Wilson College Veterans Appreciation Luncheon Wednesday, November 12, 2014, in Roberta D. Cranmer Dining & Conference Center. Both men served during the Vietnam War. - DUANE BONIFER

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Veterans Gerald Snow and Douglas Peterson



2014-11-13 - Columbia, KY - Photo by Duane Bonifer.
Army veteran Gerald Snow of Russell Springs, KY, left, and Coast Guard veteran Douglas R. Peterson of Columbia were among more than 180 area guests who attended the Lindsey Wilson College Veterans Appreciation Luncheon Wednesday. - DUANE BONIFER

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Crowded Hall for Veterans Breakfast



2014-11-13 - Columbia, KY - Photo by Duane Bonifer.
Lindsey Wilson College student Chelci Barnett of Elizabethtown, Ky., serves a table of Columbia residents during the Veterans Appreciation Luncheon Wednesday in Roberta D. Cranmer Dining & Conference Center. Seated, from left, are: Rev. Bobby Bowe, Joann Burton, Juanita Duvall, Altha Corbin, Wilburn Cheatham and Billy R. Payne. More than 180 areas guests attended the 12th-annual event that honors veterans and their survivors.

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Veterans Luncheon



2014-11-13 - Columbia, KY - Photo by Duane Bonifer. Lindsey Wilson College employee Michele Fruth hands a piece of cake Wednesday to Army veteran Lenn Pruitt of Greensburg, Ky., during the Veterans Appreciation Luncheon in Roberta D. Cranmer Dining & Conference Center.
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Veterans Ken Edwards and Bill Nogan



2014-11-13 - Columbia, KY - Photo by Duane Bonifer. Veteran Ken Edwards of Columbia, who served in the Army for 32 years, and veteran Bill Nogan, who served in the Air Force for 30 years, were among more than 180 area guests who attended the Lindsey Wilson College Veterans Appreciation Luncheon.
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Veterans Luncheon: Jerry McCandless of Campbellsburg, Ky.



2014-11-13 - Columbia, KY - Photo by Duane Bonifer. Marines veteran and Kentucky Veterans Hall of Fame member Jerry McCandless of Campbellsburg, Ky., gives the closing prayer Wednesday at the Lindsey Wilson College Veterans Appreciation Luncheon.
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