St. Peters Resident Receives Long-Awaited Purple Heart Award
It’s been roughly 45 years since Patrick Howe served in Vietnam. And he’s been waiting that long to receive his Purple Heart for the wounds he sustained in battle.
With the help of U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill’s office, Howe received his long-delayed medal on Monday at St. Peters City Hall. He called the moment “an extreme honor.”
“I’m just extremely honored and overwhelmed with what’s happening because Vietnam vets didn’t get the recognition when they came home,” Howe said. “So today, it’s just a big honor.”
According to McCaskill’s office, Howe received a Purple Heart with a Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster to recognize two of the three wounds he received while serving as an infantryman. He should have received another Purple Heart for his third wound but didn’t get it because of paperwork issues.
Howe said most of his platoon was killed during the Vietnam War, which made it difficult to provide the necessary witnesses to get the medal. He said McCaskill’s office managed to straighten out the confusion so he could get the award.
“It’s late,” McCaskill said during the ceremony. “But better late than never for the bravery that he exhibited on behalf of all of us for this nation we love so deeply.”
He said he was “blown away” that a Vietnam veteran would be recognized the way he was on Monday.
“I think all Vietnam veterans went through the same thing,” Howe said. “The first thing we did when we got back and got out of the service was hang up our uniform and put it in a closet. And basically, we couldn’t talk about and didn’t acknowledge that we were even Vietnam veterans.
“Fortunately, the new people now coming back are American heroes, which they should be,” he added. “And they do get the recognition, I believe. I’m proud of all of them for the service they did.”
Brigadier Gen. Gregory Champagne awarded Howe the Purple Heart, which is given to soldiers wounded or killed in battle. Howe's wife, children and grandchildren were on hand to watch him receive the medal.