WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – It has been more than four decades since Bill Rutledge of Canfield came back from the Vietnam War.
But all these years later, he finally received a coveted medal that he deserved for his work overseas.
On Monday in front of family and friends, Rutledge was presented with the coveted Combat Infantryman Badge.
He fought in Vietnam nearly 47 years ago.
“These are very rare and very few people earn the right to wear this,” said Colonel Meade. “It’s an honor to present that.”
Rutledge finally holds that honor.
“I am no hero,” Rutledge said. “But I’ve been honored to have known and fought with a lot of heroes.”
Rutledge realized he never got the medal six years ago. It took a while because he thought he received it when he came home in 1970 — and like most servicemen at the time — put everything away and tried to forget about the war.
So, feeling like he wasn’t honoring the men who never made it back, Rutledge began writing to the Army to try to fix his record.
But he kept getting shot down.
That is until he turned to Herm Breuer at the Trumbull County Veterans Resource Center, who got in touch with Senator Sherrod Brown.
“He’s earned this and a number of other medals,” Brown said.”It’s important that we took the opportunity to honor him today.”
Even though at first Rutledge wasn’t all about a special ceremony, after some thinking, he came around.
“I had a lot of blackhorse soldiers that I was with in Vietnam that earned this award, also, but didn’t come home and didn’t have the opportunity to do this,” Rutledge said. “So basically this is for them.”