According to the Oregon Department of Veteran Affairs Pfc. Ron Esselstyn of Pendleton, Oregon was struck in the head by a moving helicopter while attempting to engage a Viet Cong sniper on August 27, 1965.
Esselstyn was medically discharged from the Army, recovered from his wounds, and began a new career in Umatilla County.
The V.A. said Esselstyn man have been considered ineligible for the Purple Heart due to a misunderstanding of Army regulations. ODVA Director Cameron Smith learned about the issue after meeting with Esselstyn last year.
After a letter was sent to the Army, it was determined that Esselstyn was eligible for the Purple Heart and four other medals he had never received.
“I think it’s just a shame that an Army veteran who was wounded while serving his country had to wait 50-plus years to get his Purple Heart,” ODVA Operations Director Ed Van Dyke said. “I have a soft spot in my heart for those guys.”
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