An army badge lost by an American soldier when he was wounded by a grenade explosion in Vietnam was returned to his widow on Wednesday after it was found by an American traveling in Russia.
Governor Doug Burgum presented Ruth Hepper of Bismarck, ND, with the identification tag. Her husband Ronald Hepper, 58, died in 2007, Burgum’s office said in a press release.
“We are infinitely grateful for the courageous service and sacrifice of Ron Hepper and all of the North Dakotans who proudly served their country in the Vietnam War, as well as their families, especially those whose loved ones never came home,” said Burgum. that we can return these tags to Ron himself. We are grateful for the opportunity and the immense honor to present Ruth with this souvenir in the name of a grateful state and nation. “
Hepper, called “Cowboy” by his fellow soldiers, volunteered in the army in 1967 after graduating from high school and served in the 196th Light Infantry Brigade. He had been in Vietnam for a few months on June 11, 1969 when he was injured by a hand grenade. The explosion blew off his boots, where he placed a number of dog tags.
He then woke up in a hospital with no boots or trailers. He spent three months in an amputee ward, but the doctors saved his splintered legs. He was awarded the Purple Heart and returned to Isabel, SD, after completing his military service.
Hepper and his wife moved to Bismarck a few months before his death to be closer to relatives.
An American came across the label while traveling in Russia. It was not specified when it was discovered. The person bought the label from a seller in Moscow and delivered it to the American embassy, which forwarded it to the Department of Veterans Affairs in Washington, DC
“VA records reflect that Mr. Hepper served with great honor and sacrifice during the Vietnam War,” wrote VA Asst. Secretary James Hutton in a letter to Ruth Hepper The Defense is currently honoring the heroes of the Vietnam era veterans and their families. “
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It was unclear how the day ended up in Russia, but Ruth Hepper has a theory. She believes Russian soldiers fighting alongside the North Vietnamese military may have rallied them. After the Cold War, American military artifacts were searched for in Russia and China, the press release said.