DURANT, Iowa -- Fifty years after his service in Vietnam, a Durant veteran has finally received the medals he earned overseas.
On Wednesday, October 11, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst presented Dave Happ with his service medals, which include a Meritorious Unit Commendation, National Defense Service Ribbon, Vietnam Service Medal and Bronze Star Attachment, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Ribbon with Device, and Expert Badge and Rifle Bar.
Happ enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1965 when he was 18 years old, serving as a heavy equipment mechanic.
"I didn't wanna sit in the building and work on radios and radar and all that jazz. I wanted to be out there pulling wrenches in the dirt," said Happ.
After he was discharged, Happ worked in the feed business, and helped form the Durant ambulance service. He also spent many years securing food donations for community members in need.
The humble veteran is more accustomed to giving credit than receiving it.
"It blows my mind. I've never had a day, I think, in my life that I was the honored guest," said Happ.
The medal ceremony, which took place at the Durant Community Center, included a presentation of the colors and the playing of taps. Sen. Ernst, and many in attendance, consider it a long overdue 'thank you.'
"It doesn't matter if it's five days or 50 years. We need to make sure that we're honoring them and giving them our nation's gratitude for what they've given," said Ernst.