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Monday, May 2, 2016

Local Vietnam veteran earns Bronze Star

Thursday, January 31, 2008

(Photo)
Area resident Larry Witty displays the Bronze Star he was recently awarded for his efforts during the Vietnam War. [Click to enlarge]
Larry Witty never imagined he would receive his Bronze Star after so many years of trying. He said he and his wife, who passed away three months ago, had tried several times to get the medal. He already has his Purple Heart and stripes. Witty said his 214, a military form, had the star listed but he never did receive it.

After returning from war, like so many vets, he never talked about it. He said it took several years to speak of it.

In 2004, he decided to write a journal of his experiences in Vietnam. He said the journal was a therapy for him. It allowed him to talk about the war and what he went through.

Witty's postman Greg Karn has been a friend for years. He heard of Witty's journal and asked to see it. Witty said Karn returned the journal and told him he was missing a medal. Witty told him how for 37 years he tried to get it through calls and letters but had given up. Witty said Karn took it upon himself to get the star.

"He is such a great guy and good friend," Witty said. "I told him he didn't have to do this. He is the type of guy who won't take credit for it, but I give him credit for all this. Friends like him are hard to find. I would still be waiting if it wasn't for him."

Karn contacted Brad Ellsworth, U.S. Congressman of Indiana's 8th Congressional District, and told him of Witty's lost star. He sent the star to Karn three days before Witty received it. Karn and Witty's son Joe planned a ceremony for him.

"I had no clue what was going on," Witty said. "I met them Sunday, Jan. 20, 2008, at the United Methodist Church on Meridian St. They had me come up front and my son gave it to me."

Witty said he received the star with the "V," which stands for valor. He said he was proud and surprised and recalled how he was awarded the star.

He was in Vietnam from 1971-72, serving as a sergeant and tank commander. He said they would march out everyday. Witty manned the gun on one of the tanks.

He recalled the morning when he was wounded, saying the troops would spread out in a half-moon shape pattern. As the tanks moved forward, he said visibility was total blackness. About 2 a.m. in the morning, they were attacked by Northern Vietnamese soldiers.

"We would shoot a flare and see them walking towards us," Witty said. "Nothing would detour them."

Witty said his 60-caliber gun on top of the tank jammed. He asked his friend, staff sergeant and tank commander, Harry Walp to cover him. Witty was helping Walp on his tank because Walp's other gunner was injured. While he worked to take the gun apart, Witty said he felt something hot on his neck. He said he grabbed his neck and realized he had been hit. He said he didn't know how bad his injury was, but blood was running down his neck and chest.

"I though I was going to die," Witty said. "So many things go through your mind, but I knew I had to stay alive and put my weapon back together."

He said the enemy approached as flares illuminated the sky. He was offered help, but Witty said he refused because he didn't want to leave his position.

"I didn't want to leave Harry," Witty said. "If I did and he was injured, or his gun jammed, then the enemy could have gotten through our line."

After four hours and the end of the battle, Witty received help. He said the medic was terrified and bandaged him up like a mummy. Witty said the bullet had nicked the artery in his neck.

Walp told Witty he was going to recommend him for the Bronze Star with valor. When Witty was home in the U.S., he received his purple heart and stripes but never got his bronze star, even though the forms state he was to receive it.

"If it wasn't for Greg and Brad Ellsworth, I never would have gotten it," Witty said. "I really didn't want any publicity for this and debated whether I should say anything. I decided I would so people could see that many of our vets have not got the recognition they were supposed to get. So many Vietnam veterans came back and were forgotten. I hope my story helps other vets to inspire them and to not give up."


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Thank you Larry for your service to our country. You deserve this medal!

-- Posted by Partrosie on Fri, Feb 1, 2008, at 8:16 AM

Larry we appreciate you and thank you for all you have done for our country. God Bless!

-- Posted by juleeta on Fri, Feb 1, 2008, at 9:29 AM

Congratulation Larry. You make us very proud of those who served.

-- Posted by Conservative Dad on Fri, Feb 1, 2008, at 7:01 PM


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