After 41 years, Vietnam vet gets his Purple Heart

After 41 years, Vietnam vet gets his Purple Heart

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FERNDALE, Mich. -- Tom Ducharme earned the Purple Heart more than 40 years ago.  Friday, the war hero finally received the recognition he deserves.

"It's an honor to get it," said Ducharme.  "It was my boys one day brought up the fact, they asked me what I got for it and if I'd gotten a medal, and I said, 'no.'  So that's when I started to pursue it."

It all started the day then 18-year-old Sergeant Ducharme was shot in Vietnam.  He woke up to a long hospital stay.  Paperwork did not include an application for a Purple Heart.  He lost a lung and his hand was shattered.

"After a few years, you put it on the burner, and then now that I'm getting older, I decided it's time to try to get it," Ducharme said.

So on a chilly Friday afternoon, the sound of bagpipes filled the air in Ferndale.  The moment would warm the heart of the war vet, who was willing to give his life for country.

After 41 years and nearly 60 surgeries, Senator Carl Levin awarded the Purple Heart to Ducharme.  He also received other medals for his heroism and service.

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