Vietnam veteran receives overdue awards

| September 11, 2013 | 0 Comments
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (left) congratulates Robert Cox, who served with the 4th Bn., 21st Inf.  Regt., in Vietnam, from September 1968-September 1969, following a ceremony, Aug. 30, during which Gabbard awarded the veteran the bronze star with “V” device and the Purple Heart.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (left) congratulates Robert Cox, who served with the 4th Bn., 21st Inf. Regt., in Vietnam, from September 1968-September 1969, following a ceremony, Aug. 30, during which Gabbard awarded the veteran the bronze star with “V” device and the Purple Heart.

Story and photo by Maj. Kari McEwen
2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs, 25th Infantry Division

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — A Bronze Star with “V” device and the Purple Heart were awarded to Vietnam veteran Robert Cox, Aug. 30, for actions that took place more than 40 years ago.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard presented Cox with the decorations at a ceremony by the 25th Infantry Division Memorial, hosted by Lt. Col. James Tuite, commander, 1st Battalion, 21st Inf. Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team.

The memorial depicts a Soldier from the Vietnam War, holding out his hand in a gesture of support and empathy toward the Soldier of today.

“It gives me and the Gimlets great honor to reverse this image only for a moment, to raise our hand in support of you, to thank you for your service and for bearing the struggles that you have borne for 44 years that have allowed us to become what we are today,” Tuite said.

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — Robert Cox (left), who served with the 4th Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, in Vietnam, from September 1968-September 1969, presents Lt. Col. James Tuite, 1-21st Inf. Regt., 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Inf. Division, with an enemy rifle during a ceremony, here, Aug. 30, during which Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard awarded Cox the bronze star with “V” device and the Purple Heart. (Photo by Maj. Kari McEwen, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs, 25th Infantry Division)

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — Robert Cox (left), who served with the 4th Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, in Vietnam, from September 1968-September 1969, presents Lt. Col. James Tuite, 1-21st Inf. Regt., 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Inf. Division, with an enemy rifle during a ceremony, here, Aug. 30, during which Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard awarded Cox the bronze star with “V” device and the Purple Heart. (Photo by Maj. Kari McEwen, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs, 25th Infantry Division)

Sgt. Robert Cox served as a squad leader in the 4th Bn., 21st Inf. Regt., during a combat tour in Vietnam, September 1968-September 1969. He received the Bronze Star with “V” device on March 4, 1969, when his firebase perimeter was breached by enemy Soldiers who were attempting to gain access to the command post.

Cox, on radio watch, engaged the enemy from the command post bunker, and then, exposing himself to hostile fire to protect his vital position, fired his weapon at an enemy soldier preventing him from throwing a satchel charge.

On Feb.18, 1969, Cox was on patrol when his platoon medic stepped on a “bouncing betty” antipersonnel mine, killing his platoon’s medic and wounding several members. Cox suffered a shrapnel wound, received treatment and was returned to duty.

At a recent doctor’s visit, Cox learned he still has shrapnel embedded in his body from his time in combat.

Cox was never formally presented with an award until the ceremony, Aug. 30, 2013.

There is a process for Soldiers who believe they meet the criteria for the Purple Heart to request the award. It is the only decoration that does not require a recommendation, and the only decoration that may be awarded more than three years after the incident.

“To be able to provide this recognition and be a part of this so many years later is something that we will continue to do for you and your brothers and sisters who served in Vietnam,” said Gabbard before presenting the awards.

The congresswoman, also a veteran, is currently a captain, Military Police, in the Hawaii Army National Guard, with two tours served downrange in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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