Vietnam Veteran's family accepts medals for father's service
Rep. Steve King gives Vern Sullivan's children the medals Sullivan earned in Vietnam.
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) -
This is a big day for Kary Dean. She is waiting with family and friends to honor her father. On Monday, Vern Sullivan is receiving eight medals for his service in Vietnam.
"Growing up we always knew he was a very proud Vietnam vet war hero, but we didn't ever really hear much about what happened over there," said Lisa Hansel, daughter.
While working at his bait shop, Sullivan met Congressman Steve King, and told him he never received his medals. King's researchers began looking into that. But Sullivan died in September, before he could be formally honored.
"By happenstance, I was going through Humboldt and it was right before the funeral. So, I pulled in and went to the funeral and met the family," said Congressman King.
Sullivan served for two years in Vietnam, and was honorably discharged in September of 1968. He was a member of the infantry, and it was his work beneath the trenches that may have led to his greatest honor.
"So, Sully was given that task, to be a tunnel rat, the expression, of course, for the one who crawled on in, and they would often have a pistol, maybe a k-bar knife, and a light, and that was it," said Congressman King.
When he came back to America, Sullivan married and forgot about the medals. But now his family has them.
"He wasn't a man of needing to show this is what I've got, these are my awards, and I deserve them. That wasn't who he was. But he would have been very proud to be receiving these," said Hansel.
"I think this would have been a truly emotional event for my father," said Dean.
While he was working in the tunnels, his chest was pierced by a stick, part of enemy trap, and it required 14 stitches. Sullivan often told his kids that was probably worth a Purple Heart. King's staff is still looking into that.
"I'm going to take his medals and we're going to put them in a shadow box, and keep them, and hope that maybe one day we can add the Purple Heart to it," said Hansel.
Hansel's not sure where the box will go yet, but it's her goal to ensure her dad's legacy lives on.
"He came to peace with some of the things that he dealt with in his life. And that peace was that he turned all of those things over to God. And I'm really proud of my father for those things," said Dean.
Sullivan received the following medals: Army Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal & Triple Bronze Star Attachment, Combat Infantry Badge, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Ribbon with Device, Expert Badge & Machine Gun Bar, Sharpshooter Badge & Rifle Bar, and Marksman Badge & Auto Rifle Bar.
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