Comrades get hero his Bronze Star
NAZARETH, Pa. - June 21, 2010 (WPVI) -- It was 40 years in coming, but a Lehigh Valley veteran has finally gotten the medal he earned in Vietnam while saving three fellow soldiers and dodging a hail of enemy fire.
Frank Calabrese of Nazareth earned his Bronze Star 40 years ago as an Army medic during the Vietnam War. But somehow the paperwork fell through the cracks and he was never recognized for what he did in battle.
That changed, though, when the men who fought beside him found out. This band of brothers took it upon themselves to re-apply for the honor even though Mr. Calabrese initially balked at the idea."I said, 'Look, I was just doing my job that day, fellas.'" Calabrese said. "They said, 'No. We think you did something above and beyond the call of duty.'"
It happened in early October of 1970. Calabrese and his unit came under heavy fire near the Cambodian border. Four of Calabrese's fellow soldiers were badly injured and with a hail of bullets still whizzing over his head he did his job and pulled all four out of the line of fire. Three of them survived.
Frank Calabrese says he chooses to honor the memory of the soldier who died by focusing on the lives of those who made it.
"I was able to bring home three of these men, so that they could become fathers and grandfathers," Calabrese told Action News.
So, 40 year later, a ceremony was held last month in Allentown where U.S. Senator Bob Casey officially recognized Frank Calabrese as someone who displayed uncommon valor on the field of battle.
"In this case when we have somebody who's earned those medals and earned those awards," Sen. Casey said, "We just want to make sure they get to them."
The now 62-year-old Calabrese says he accepts this honor on behalf of his family, but, even more, in the name of the men who stood beside him in the jungles of Vietnam.
"These are the bravest, bravest men that I've ever had the pleasure of knowing."
pennsylvania, northampton county, veterans, u.s. army, vietnam, local/state
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