Decorated Vietnam War veteran Don E. Williams, who served in the Army, was reunited Monday with his lost Purple Heart and Bronze Star in a ceremony in Lepanto, Ark., two medals he thought were lost for good.
An auctioneer found a Purple Heart and Bronze Star belonging to the Cordova soldier in a Memphis storage facility and brought them to the attention of the Lepanto, Ark., mayor.
MORE: Auctioneer finds soldier's Vietnam War medals in storage
MORE: Vietnam War medals returned to Cordova soldier
Williams, who served as an Army medic during the Vietnam War, was shot six times while trying to rescue his fellow soldiers during a five-hour battle on April 11, 1966. He was the only medic to survive the battle.
For heroic actions 47 years ago in Vietnam, Spec 4 Williams received a Bronze Star with a V for Valor device and 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.
A day after the auctioneer showed the lost war medals to FOX13 News, Williams was located. Monday evening he was in Lepanto at the American Legion Post to officially be reunited with his two lost medals.
Monday's reunion had all the makings of a homecoming with people taking pictures with Williams, calling him a hero, hosting a huge catfish fry. Williams seemed to be overwhelmed with all the attention.
"The love that is involved in this, and you got to know that God did this, so if anybody don't know God, see me after this one, because I got some testimonies," Williams said. "But to be here in this place, I wish that all of America could see this tonight and understand how this happened. How a man decided he could do this, he could have just thrown them away, and then he decided to do this. I can't find the words, but I want to say thank you, but then I get here, and ya'll show me all this love. My wife ain't hugged me this much in years. You know, she's telling me to shut up!"
"Oh it feels just wonderful that we are actually doing something that's kind of special to take care of something,"said Lepanto Mayor Steve Jernigan, who is also the American Legion Post commander. "Someone that lost something like that, we can return it, it's just wonderful, specifically a personal item like that."
Now reunited with the war 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.