(WMC-TV) - A Mid-South veteran earned the Bronze Star and Air Medal during his service in Vietnam, but did not receive either for decades because of a paperwork problem. Tommy Verrell waited almost 40 years to receive the honors he deserved for risking his life to save fellow soldiers in the Vietnam War.
Family, friends, and fellow servicemen surrounded Verrell Tuesday. It is a night he will not forget.
"It feels good not to be forgotten cause I thought I was," he said.
Verrell made at least 25 aerial missions over hostile territory in support of "operations against communist aggression". He also helped put wounded soldiers in helicopters getting them to safety.
"It was scary ... Real scary, yeah, but really can't let it bother you 'cause if you do then you might not make it back home," he said.
Miss. Senator Roger Wicker says he is proud he gets to represent people like Verrell.
"People that did their duty stepped forward in a time when it was very, very difficult," he said.
Verrell says as he now watches young soldiers get welcomed home, and it brings memories back.
"It makes me think back to what we were treated like ... We were called names, everything else ... Were cussed, and it was hard," he said.
But for those returning now, he says he is thankful things have changed.
"I'm proud to see they getting what they deserve cause everyone of them deserves it," he said.
Verrell said even though he was in heavy combat the majority of the time in Vietnam, he did not get hurt. He is surprised and feels blessed to have survived.
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