NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) — Forty years after a battle that left him with a piece of shrapnel in his knee, a Vietnam War veteran is still fighting for his right to wear the Purple Heart medal that he earned during an indirect fire attack along the Laotian border in 1968.
Gene Lang told CBS 2’s Lou Young that the memories of his time near Khe San still give him nightmares.
“You could hear the rounds coming in whistling. They say the one that hits you, you don’t hear. Well that’s true because that one I didn’t hear,” he said.
The Army has given Lang a number of medals and combat commendations but will not award him the Purple Heart because it cannot find medical records that authenticate the injury.
Lang still has a piece of metal in his knee and another piece was removed by a medic, under fire.
His lawyer is a retired Brigadier General who told CBS 2 that it isn’t surprising that the paperwork is missing.
“Quite possibly if someone was firing rockets and mortars at me, I’d be reluctant to sit and fill out some medical record. I think I’d want to get out of there and that, I think, is what happened,” said Donald Singer.
Senator Chuck Schumer has also joined the fight to bring the veteran his medal and some peace of mind.
“You gotta understand, you’re taking other people’s lives, and you see a friend and one minute he’s alive, and the next he’s dead,” said Lang.
Lang’s former Commanding Officer and several other members of his unit have submitted affidavits verifying the injury, all of them said that they would be there, if and when the Army awards him the medal.
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