50 years later, Williamsburg Vietnam Veteran receives Bronze Star

Posted at 5:50 PM, Apr 24, 2014
and last updated 2014-04-24 17:50:41-04

Newport News, Va. (WTKR) - Nearly 50 years overdue, a Williamsburg Vietnam Veteran received the Bronze Star Thursday.

Lieutenant Colonel (Ret.) Harold Campbell was awarded the Bronze Star Medal during a ceremony at the Joint Base Langley-Eustis Transportation Museum.

"Even though this has been nearly 50 years since the time it should’ve been awarded, I’m probably more proud of it now than I would’ve been at the time," Campbell told NewsChannel 3's Todd Corillo.

Campbell was awarded the Bronze Star for "exceptionally meritorious service as the detachment commander in support of aerial combat operations, 140th Transportation Detachment (Cargo Helicopter Field Maintenance), 117 Aviation Company from August 15, 1963 to May 1, 1964, while deployed to the Republic of Vietnam."

After being awarded the Bronze Star, Campbell made it clear that the award was about far more than him, but also the men he had the honor of leading.

"I’ve been fortunate during my career – I’ve commanded troops from platoon level up to battalion," Campbell said.

The Bronze Star is not the first overdue award Campbell has received.

In 2011, he was awarded the Soldier's Medal for his heroic actions in Vietnam on March 24, 1968.

On that day, Campbell and two other officers rushed into a burning refugee village near Nha Trang.

"It just ran through that village very quickly – so we had no choice, we had to get in there and start helping people," Campbell remembers.

"They were frozen in place and it was obvious that they were not going to leave- so we just picked them up and carried them out," he continued.

Lt. Col. Campbell retired from active duty in 1981 and now lives in Williamsburg.