Two Vietnam War medals recently found in a Memphis storage facility by a Lepanto, Ark., auctioneer have been returned to Army veteran Don. E. Williams, who earned them in combat in 1966.
A day after a Purple Heart and Bronze Star with V device for Valor were turned into Lepanto Mayor Steve Jernigan, friends of Williams notified FOX13 News, who saw the report on Monday, where Williams lives.
Williams, who used to live in Lapanto, now resides in Cordova, Tenn.
"I am from Orange Mound, Tenn.," Williams said. "Memphis is a suburb."
MORE: Auctioneer finds soldier's Vietnam War medals in storage
Forty-seven years after serving in the Army, Williams still walks with a limp. It's a wonder he walks at all.
Williams was the only medic to survive a five-hour battle in Vietnam. Eight fellow medics and 180 soldiers were killed in that battle, he recalls.
"I crawled into the fire," he said. "I didn't go away from it. But from my position, that if a soldier was down it was my job to get to him, and that's what medics do."
For heroic actions on April 11, 1966 in Vietnam, Spec 4 Williams received a Bronze Star with a V for Valor device.
"What happened to us, they killed all the medics," he said. "I ran out of bandages. They hit me in my foot, they hit me in my hip twice. I was crawling and doing what I could do to patch guys up. They hit me (in the ankle). (The) bullet is still in. Finally I felt something like a broom handle being pushed into my back. There are two bullets lodged in my spine (like a wedge)."
Williams was shot six times and refused to stop bandaging fellow soldiers while under heavy fire. For his heroic efforts, he received a Purple Heart.
Thirty-two years after being injured in the Vietnam War, in 1998 he put the two medals in a storage unit in Memphis. Soon after his mother passed away and he slipped into depression.
"I became homeless, and I thought I could sustain the rentals," Williams said. "I did for a while, but it became burdensome when you have limited income."
Ultimately Williams got help from the VA Hospital and got off the streets and back with his family. He never thought he would see his Purple Heart or his Bronze Star again.
He will soon be reunited with his two combat medals.
"I am sitting here trying not to tear up," Williams said. "But those medals are who I am. They are my history.
The amazing thing, Williams says he would do it all again for his country if he had to.
"Like I keep telling my kids, I left flesh and blood over there and I came back with some medals," he said. "Some metal in here. But I am getting my babies back. Life is good."
Once he is reunited with his medals, Williams said he will enshrine them in his house. He will also wear them when he participates in 2013 Veterans Day festivities on Monday, Nov. 11.
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