- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 1, 2015

TUPELO, Miss. (AP) - A Mississippi veteran is receiving medals to recognize his military service in Vietnam, more than 45 years after he was wounded in combat.

Ed Deuschle was presented the Silver Star, the Air Medal and the Combat Infantryman Badge on Monday in his native Tupelo.

U.S. Rep. Trent Kelly, R-Miss., made the presentation during a ceremony at Calvary Baptist Church.

“I have served for close to 30 years and have seen combat,” Kelly said. “But this is one of those times where I feel I am not worthy. The Silver Star is this country’s third highest honor.”

The three awards are the first of eight that will be presented to Deuschle, a retired Baptist minister now living in Madison and working as interim pastor for a church in Noxapater, the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reported (https://bit.ly/1KpbiYC ).

The Silver Star was awarded for his actions on May 7, 1970. Deuschle was injured but led a small group against an enemy machine gun nest. The soldier in front of him died before Deuschle could toss a hand grenade.

“I am overwhelmed and humbled,” Deuschle said Monday. “After I was medically discharged in 1971, I attempted to contact the 101st Airborne about my medals but it just sort of fell through the administrative cracks.

“Since I was the only officer from Delta Company to survive, there was no one to validate my actions. I gave up on it 43 years ago. The only thing I brought back were the dog tags around my neck.”

The effort to recognize Deuschle began two years ago when his nephew, U.S. Rep. Alan Nunnelee, asked about his service. Nunnelee, R-Miss., pushed the military to open an investigation to award the medals. After Nunnelee died this year and Kelly was elected to succeed him, Kelly continued the effort.

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