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It took 43 years, but Vietnam veteran Michael Carey finally received his Bronze Star with Valor award from the U.S. Marine Corps.
The Watkins Glen, N.Y. native now living in Frisco, Texas, was honored during a recent ceremony in McKinney, Texas. The medals, he said, were earned during a 1970 battle.
On March 26, 1970, Michael was the point man on patrol when he tripped an “enemy firing device.” His selfless response allowed the squad to take cover and saved the nearest Marines from deadly shrapnel.
The force of the blast caused Michael to bleed from his ears, he said.
“I refused medical evacuation, as we were short on men, but the Marine behind me received some small pieces of shrapnel in his right arm and leg, while diving for cover, and he needed to be evacuated,” Michael said.
The seven-day, intense battle ended with three Marines killed and 32 seriously wounded in need of evacuation.
“During this battle, we watched helicopters being shot down and crashing, napalm canisters being dropped so close to us that we could feel the intense heat and the enemy’s death screams,” Michael said. “I served with some brave men, and we were very aggressive, causing fear in the enemy. All of the men in our squad, platoon and company deserve this same award.”
Michael, a rifleman, left the jungles of Vietnam in October of 1970. During his one-year tour with the Marine Corps, he was written up for the award by his company commander. But when his company pulled out of Vietnam and he was transferred, the letter was never acted upon, Michael said.
“I found the original letter four years ago, going through my military records,” he said.
Michael was wounded several times during his service.
“It’s been extremely difficult on all of us that served in heavy combat, and witnessing so much death and destruction,” Michael said. “I know I’m lucky to be alive, so I look at life completely different than most.”