FORT HOOD, Texas — Fort Hood officials held a ceremony Wednesday, Jan. 11 at the Marvin Leath Visitors Center to present former United States Army Sergeant John D. Footman with the Bronze Star for Valor and Purple Heart medals.
The Purple Heart is the highest award that is automatically given to any officer or enlisted person as soon as the criteria are met. This award is given to a U.S. military service member in the name of the President who was wounded or killed while serving, on or after 5 April 1917, with the U.S. military.
The Bronze Star for Valor is the fourth highest military decoration for valor. Service members earn this award for heroic achievement, heroic service, meritorious achievement, or meritorious service in a combat zone.
Footman is a Tallahassee, Florida native and enlisted in the Army in 1967. He entered as a infantryman and served as a cavalry scout throughout the remainder of his military career.
His assignments include serving in Germany, Vietnam, and various U.S. assignments before he retired in 1987.
After his first tour to Vietnam, he was sent back to the U.S. for a different assignment. Not long after, he decided the job was not done and he needed to go back.
"I went to the reenlisting sergeant to get back in. He sat my reenlisting paperwork on his desk for 27 days. When he asked why I wanted to go back, I said because I got a mission," Footman explained.
During his second Vietnam tour, Footman captured weapons and a log book that detailed everything the enemy had been hauling since 1963.
He was also severely injured in a landmine explosion but says he doesn't regret going back.
"You never leave your comrades alone. Always be there for them and they're going to be there for you," Footman continued.
Footman says he was overwhelmed and filled with joy after finding out Fort Hood wanted to put together this ceremony. Fort Hood Colonel Chad Foster says they were more than happy to put the event together and says it was well overdue.
"It's important though to look back on that previous generation. Not everybody that is served in Vietnam like staff Sergeant John Footman had that or enjoy that. So we get to show him that love today that he should've gotten throughout his entire term of service. So we were happy to do that.," Foster said.
Footman went on to say he will cherish this day forever and hopes more Vietnam veterans speak up if they believe they're owed their recognition.