by: Diana Davis Updated:
LITHONIA, Ga. - Nearly 45 years after he was wounded, a Vietnam veteran was awarded the Purple Heart.
The medal, reserved for those killed or wounded in combat, was presented Thursday to the now 65-year-old Decatur man in a DeKalb County ceremony. Staff Sgt. Clarence Bostwick told Channel 2’s Diana Davis said he was happy his records were finally found.
“All I can say is it’s about time. It’s about time after 44 years, about time,” Bostwick said.
Bostwick was 19 when he was drafted. Months after he arrived in Vietnam, his unit came under attack. He was hit by an enemy grenade. Pointing to his right side, Bostwick showed Davis where he was hit.
“This side of my head, the back of this arm and the back of his leg,” he said.
He was back in combat after less than a week, but the records of Bostwick’s shrapnel wounds were lost, and he was denied the Purple Heart he'd earned.
“They was saying they didn’t have the paperwork on me. My records were lost. They were burned in a fire. They’ve got all kinds of excuses,” said Bostwick.
More than 20 years ago, he began pressing the military for that Purple Heart. Last year, his lost records were found. After all the years of waiting, the Purple Heart was pinned on his chest by Rep. Hank Johnson on Thursday.
Bostwick, who retired from his civilian job more than 20 years ago, told Davis he hasn't kept in touch with other veterans. He said he lost count of how many of his buddies back then died.
“It was hell, just fighting night and day. You didn’t know who was who,” Bostwick said.
Davis asked Bostwick to see pictures of his time in Vietnam, but he told her he put them all away. He said he just doesn't like to look at them.