Ralph Mertz received five military medals Wednesday for his service in the Vietnam War.
On February 8, 1971, Ralph Mertz was wounded in the Vietnam War while trying to protect soldiers from his unit as they were under fire.
Wednesday, Mertz was honored for his actions in a long overdue ceremony.
Mertz, who was a combat medic in the war, received a Purple Heart for his actions that day.
But he knew he had other medals on his record that were unaccounted for.
So, he turned to Congressman Steve King to help him find the others.
Wednesday, after over 40 years, Mertz finally received those honors - among them, a bronze star medal with a "V" Device for valor.
But on that day in 1971, Mertz lost three of his friends.
An emotional Mertz noted that men serving together in combat is a brotherhood, and you trust your life to them.
Just as they do to you.
"You do what you have to do," said Mertz. "That, in effect, is all I did. Unfortunately, we lost three friends, and like I say, they will never get the chance to be awarded their medals or a chance to wear them."
The other medals Mertz was presented with Wednesday were a Good Conduct Medal, a Vietnam Service Medal, an Expert Badge and a Sharpshooter Badge.
Mertz's two sons, Dan and David, who are also servicemen, presented the medals to him, something Mertz says was a huge honor.
Wednesday, August 27 2014 2:48 AM EDT2014-08-27 06:48:05 GMT
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