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For week ended January 23, 2000 Posted 24 Feb 2001
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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.' "


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