Richard A. Walker, Jr of Neptune City earned a Bronze Star and other medals in Vietnam nearly 45 years ago, but never received them…until yesterday.
Congressman Chris Smith presented Walker with his honors, The Bronze Star, the Army Commendation Medal, the Good Conduct Medal; the National Defense Service Medal; the Vietnam Service Medal & Bronze Star Attachment; the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Ribbon, and; the Sharpshooter Badge & Rifle Bar, yesterday in the congressman’s Freehold office. Walker’s son, Ocean Township Police Officer Steven Walker and his friend Officer Chris Stenger, an ex-Marine and combat veteran of Afghanistan were on hand for the ceremony.
“During my tour of duty in Vietnam, in which I was proud to serve my country, I was awarded the Bronze Star and other medal,” said Mr. Walker in a request to Congressman Smith for assistance. “In 1969-1970 it was better to be obscure than chastised. Recently my son, a police officer in Ocean Township, found some of my pictures I had of my Vietnam unit and asked for them [the medals] to hang in his office. I would like to give him my medals but don’t have them. I never received them. My attempts to get them have been in vain. Any help in procuring them would be greatly appreciated.
“I wish I could share it with the ones who didn’t come back,” Walker said of his fallen comrades-in-arms when was presented with the medal Friday. “A lot of lost souls there. I’ll accept this for them.”
Walker served in the United States Army in Vietnam from Dec. 6, 1969 until Nov. 10, 1970. He quit high school and volunteered in 1966, leaving the service as a sergeant. He was eligible for the Bronze Star for a special operation close to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) about which he was given few details.
Smith sent a letter to the National Archives’ National Person Records Center requesting the medals be issued. The Army approved the request and Smith received the medals on Oct. 27, and presented them before Walker’s son, Ocean Township Patrolman Steven Walker; a family friend, Officer Chris Stenger, an ex-Marine and combat veteran of Afghanistan, and; several reporters on Nov. 7 at Smith’s Freehold Office.
“This was a slip up that needed to be made right,” said Smith, who was the chairman of the Veterans Committee in the House of Representatives for four years. “The Bronze Star and the other medals are an important part of the Walker family history. I am glad his son prompted Mr. Walker to seek them, because he served his country honorably. The medals are long overdue.”