In this episode another example of delayed recognition for a Vietnam Veteran will be featured. This story about USMC Vietnam Veteran Bruce Bennett receiving a belated Purple Heart come from KSBY TV in Santa Barbara, California titled: Local Vietnam veteran receives Purple Heart 48 years after injury that was submitted by Megan Abundis.
Bennett was serving as a Marine Corps corporal in Vietnam during 1968 when his position came under a mortar attack by the North Vietnamese. He dove into a foxhole for cover but to his misfortune, one of the incoming mortar rounds hit a tree above his position and exploded. The concussion and shrapnel effects of the detonation rained down on Bennett in the foxhole. Bennett suffered a major back and leg injuries.
He was discharged due the injuries suffered in the mortar attack later in 1968. When he inquired about his Purple Heart he was told he had been awarded the medal much to his surprise. Bennett continued to pursue the issue of the missing medal. After trying to receive the military medal for a number of years, Bennett says there was government confusion. “We’re all out. Our records show we already sent one to you,” he said he was told.
Finally, 48 years later his persistence paid off – on Friday Congresswoman Lois Capps, who represents California’s Congressional District 24, presented Bennett with the Purple Heart he so well deserved.
Currently Bennett spends his time therapeutically riding horses with other local vets at Hearts Therapeutic Equestrian Center, a place he holds dear to his heart. The Center offers life-changing experiences to people of all ages with a wide range of disabilities. Since opening in 1985, approximately 60,000 lesson hours to over 2,000 members of our community have benefited from therapeutic riding. Today we have 10 horses and serve 80 riders per week.