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Rye Brook Vietnam Vet Gets Purple Heart After 43 Years

Rye Brook veteran Jim Smith with U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer after receiving his Purple Heart award 43 years after being injured in the Vietnam War.
Rye Brook veteran Jim Smith with U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer after receiving his Purple Heart award 43 years after being injured in the Vietnam War. Photo Credit: Courtesy of U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer

RYE BROOK, N.Y. -- Rye Brook resident Jim Smith was awarded a Purple Heart medal last week for injuries he sustained while fighting in the Vietnam War 43 years ago.

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer presented the award to Smith at his Rye Brook home last week. Smith had contacted Schumer's office last year after applying for a Purple Heart and being denied by a review board. Schumer's office researched the case and presented new evidence, including witness testimony and medical records, and was able to secure the award for Smith.

“Today is finally the day that Jim Smith has waited decades for, and I am honored to pin the long-overdue Purple Heart medal upon his uniform,” said Schumer. “With humility and patience, Jim Smith has waited for his due recognition. I have worked for months to help him gather and present the evidence that would prove once and for all that he absolutely deserves this award. The final packet submitted to the Army includes new testimony from multiple eyewitnesses including his platoon medic, and today’s presentation of this award makes the effort worth the while."

Smith served as a combat infantryman in the 25th Infantry Division in 1970. After returning from active duty in Cambodia, a member of his squad tripped a booby trap while on patrol. Smith and three other men were injured in the resulting explosion. Smith suffered shrapnel injuries to his arms and legs, neck trauma and a temporary loss of hearing. One of the other men injured in the explosion received his Purple Heart 43 years ago.

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