Summarized by Kent Larsen
LDS Military Officer Obtains Medals For Vietnam Vet
Waco TX Tribune-Herald 19Jan00 P2
By Richard L. Smith: Tribune-Herald staff writer
FORT HOOD, TEXAS -- An LDS military officer at Fort Hood Army Air Field
discovered that Vietnam Veteran Deacon Victor Beltran had never been
awarded medals he was due for heroism during the war. So Col. Winn Noyes
made sure that Beltran got the medals.
Noyes met Beltran at the Hughes Unit of the Texas Department of Criminal
Justice in Gatesville, Texas. Beltran worked there as a Roman Catholic
deacon, performing religious ceremonies for the inmates. Noyes has
volunteered at the prison for two years representing the LDS Church.
While at the prison, Noyes heard Beltran talk about his experiences
during the war, and learned that Beltran only found out that he was
eligible for medals after he had left the armed forced. Noyes says this
is not unusual, "Because there were so many troops, so fast, some fell
through the cracks," he said. "Basically, it was 'thank you for your
service' and you were sent home."
So Noyes, with the help of the 21st Cavalry Brigade's Command Sgt. Maj.
L.M. Morgan, pushed through the paperwork and set up an awards ceremony
for Beltran. The 54-year-old Gatesville, Texas man was awarded six
medals for his service as a helicopter door gunner during the war,
including the Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Army's fourth
highest decoration for valor.
At the awards ceremony, Noyes, who presented the medals, honored Beltran
as a hero to his country, "This is an opportunity to stand up and say:
'On behalf of a grateful nation, thanks.' "