PITTSBURGH – A Vietnam War veteran has finally received medals for his service after 45 years of waiting.
Francis McKenna was presented with the National Defense Service Medal, the Air Force Good Conduct Medal, the Air Force Longevity Service Award, the Vietnam Service Medal and a Vietnam Gallantry cross during a ceremony in Tarentum, about 20 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, according to the Tribune-Review .
McKenna, 67, joined the Air Force in 1969. He said he was originally designated for stateside service but volunteered to go overseas after another airman was expecting a baby.
While he participated in campaigns in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia, many of his missions were classified, leaving little proof he served.
McKenna returned to the U.S. and tried to get his records changed. He said the government denied his request over and over again. He eventually enlisted the help of veterans representatives Curt Hetrick and Greg Heinle.
Hetrick said they spent three years searching through military records for some sort of proof that McKenna served.
"I was ready to give up," he said.
Then they found a line that read "assigned to duty in Thailand September of 1971 to March of 1973."
That line was enough to show McKenna served and should receive the medals included for his service.
State Rep. Mike Doyle, who presented the medals, said it was "long overdue."
"You were certainly due these medals that I have the pleasure of pinning on you today," Doyle, a Democrat, told McKenna at Friday's ceremony.
Information from: Tribune-Review, http://triblive.com