Vietnam veteran formally pinned with Purple Heart award 37 years after retirement

It was a joyous day for SSG(R) John Footman who spent 20 years in the Army
Lt. Gen. Sean C. Bernabe pins SSG(R) John Footman at Wednesday's ceremony.
Lt. Gen. Sean C. Bernabe pins SSG(R) John Footman at Wednesday's ceremony.(KWTX)
Published: Jan. 11, 2023 at 5:07 PM CST
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FORT HOOD, Texas (KWTX) - It’s been more than 37 years since a Central Texas Vietnam veteran earned some of the highest military honors, but it wasn’t until Wednesday that he was formally recognized for them and the sacrifices he made to earn them.

Retired Staff Sergeant John Footman left the service in July of 1987.

You may remember him from KWTX’s “We Can’t Forget Vietnam” documentary back in 2015.

He earned a Purple Heart and the Bronze Star for valor during his first tour to Vietnam but never had a ceremony to recognize the achievement until today.

“When we heard about it, that he had never been formally awarded those two decorations, the answer was obvious. We had to rectify that,” said Col. Chad Foster.

Surrounded by family and friends, Footman’s Purple Heart and Bronze Star for valor are finally pinned to his already decorated uniform.

“I’m just overwhelmed. I’m glad it happened. I didn’t think it’d ever happen, but it did happen,” said Footman.

Serving from 1967 to 1987, he was on various U.S. assignments, in Germany and the Vietnam war.

His purple heart and bronze star for valor were nonchalantly given to him during his second tour but never formally presented.

It wasn’t until recently that he realized he still qualified and reached out to fort hood to see if it were possible.

“I didn’t really think they took it seriously, but they did. I’m so proud they’ve done it and I’m so proud to have the corps commander to pin my medals on me,” said Footman.

Both of his former commanders were in the audience today which made the honor that much more special.

“That was an honor. That did my heart great. I was glad to see both of them,” said Footman.

He’s passionate about making sure his fellow veterans are properly honored like he was today.

If they speak up, they can make it happen, but you can’t just sit back with your mouth closed. You have to speak up,” said Footman.

Along with his two newest honors, Footman has received the Vietnam Service Medal with Silver Service Star and the Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation Badge with Palm.

The “We Can’t Forget Vietnam” documentary is available to watch here.