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Family of Deceased Vietnam War Veteran Receive Awards

WBFO News photos by Eileen Buckley

Friends and family to deceased war veteran Corporal Robert J. Smith gathered in West Seneca Sunday morning to recognize him for his contributions during the Vietnam War.

Congressman Brian Higgins and Town of West Seneca Supervisor Sheila Meegan presented Corporal Smith's family with a Purple Heart and two Bronze Stars. Higgins says he was grateful to be involved in the ceremony on such a special weekend.  

Corporal Smith was killed in action nearly 48 years ago. Higgins says he knew the Smith family and was happy to assist them. However, he has been contacted by other families with similar cases of medals that were also never rewarded.

Corporal Smith’s Bronze Star award reads as follows: “For heroism in connection with military operations against a hostile force: Private Smith distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions on 29 September 1967 in the Republic of Vietnam. Private Smith’s platoon was moving across an open rice paddy on a search and destroy operation when they were ambushed by an estimated enemy company. In the initial burst of hostile fire Private Smith was wounded seriously. Ignoring his painful wound and the withering hail of enemy fire being directed at him from three sides, he continued to relay artillery and air strike requests from his platoon leader who was also wounded. Private Smith was mortally wounded by enemy sniper fire, but his fearless actions enabled his platoon leader to bring in effective supporting fire on the enemy positions and completely destroy them. Private Smith’s devotion to duty and personal courage were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.”