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Vietnam veteran from San Antonio receives Purple Heart 55 years later

Robert Briggs, left, chats with Congressman Joaquin Castro
Brian Kirkpatrick
Texas Public Radio
Robert Briggs, left, chats with Congressman Joaquin Castro, right, before Purple Heart ceremony

A Vietnam War veteran battling stage four cancer received a Purple Heart Monday for wounds he received in combat 55 years ago. 77-year-old Robert Briggs of San Antonio enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1962, after graduation from Robert E. Lee High School.

The sergeant and radio operator was in the 1st Marine Division, 1st Tank Battalion, C Company when he was ambushed by enemy forces and suffered shrapnel wounds.

Democratic Congressman Joaquin Castro pinned the medal on Briggs during a ceremony at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8541 on Austin Highway.

"I will never forget this, ever. This has just been too much for me. This is such an honor, such a great honor," Briggs said.

The Military Desk at Texas Public Radio is made possible in part by North Park Lincoln and Rise Recovery.

His family blamed the half-century delay on paper work gone missing after it was filed with the government. The family called on help from veterans organizations to rectify the mistake.

The family thanked the Veterans Affairs Department, the VFW Post and Tony Roman, Texas Chief-of-Staff, Military Order of the Purple Heart for their assistance.

"Fifty-five years later, that's a long wait for something, especially something as cherished as the Purple Heart. The Purple Heart goes way back in history," said daughter Tamatha Briggs.

Congressman Castro said it was a pleasure to pin the medal on Brigg's lapel.

"This is one of the most special things that I get to do as a member of Congress, is presenting a medals to our veterans who have earned them. And today was very special to present this Purple Heart to a veteran who has waited 55 years to get the medal that he has earned," he said.

The Purple Heart is presented to service members who have been wounded or killed because of enemy action while serving in the U.S. military. Established in 1782, nearly 2 million Purple Heart medals have been presented to service members since World War I, according to a news release from Congressman Castro's office.

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