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Houston Chronicle: Deer Park vet emotional at finally being awarded Vietnam War medals
Deer Park vet emotional at finally being awarded Vietnam War medals
By Don Maines
Wednesday, November 16, 2016
Walter Eggers didn't need medals to thank him for doing his duty in the Vietnam War.
"I just went over there did what I was supposed to do," said Eggers, 74, of Deer Park.
But when a Veterans Benefits Administration clerk advised Eggers that an omission on his discharge papers could affect his benefits, Eggers called his congressman.
"He needed to prove that he had received the Vietnam Campaign Medal so he could receive certain VA benefits," said Beverly Ferguson, a Deer Park resident who is the regional director of community relations for U.S. Rep. Brian Babin (R-Woodville), whose 36th Congressional District includes portions of southeastern Harris County and has an office in Deer Park.
The National Personnel Record Center not only confirmed that Eggers was due the Vietnam Campaign Medal for serving in Vietnam for either more than 30 consecutive days or 60 nonconsecutive days, but Ferguson said, "They also found that Mr. Eggers hadn't received several other medals. Mr. Eggers was quite surprised and emotional when he was told that he was due a total of eight medals."
The NPRC reviewed his official military personnel file and determined he was entitled to: the Vietnam Service Medal (with four bronze star appurtenances), National Defense Service Medal, Navy Unit Commendation Medal and Meritorious Unit Commendation Medal.
He also was entitled to a cluster of foreign awards including Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Unit citations.
Babin presented the overdue American medals to Eggers at a Veterans Town Hall meeting Oct. 11 at Lee College in Baytown.
"This was a very emotional time for Mr. Eggers because he received more medals than he expected," Ferguson said.
Among friends of Eggers who attended and applauded his presentation of medals were Pasadena residents Bobby and Lynn Hooper, Walter and Susan Stewart and Gene Stone, as well as Martin Lemkie, a Deer Park resident who served in the U.S. Marines.
Eggers was born in Seneca Falls, New York and adopted by relatives in Louisiana, who brought him to Pasadena when he was a youngster. He graduated from Pasadena High School in 1963, then enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served until 1967.
Eggers served twice in Vietnam, first as a construction electrician who performed maintenance on runway lighting. Then he providing security, riding shotgun on convoys.
"I was never in the position of being shot at, or had to shoot at anybody, but I watched it going on, on another hill," he said of the fighting.
While watching scenes of Vietnam fighting on The History Channel on Veterans Day, Eggers added, "I don't feel like anything special. The ones that are special to me are the ones who died or came back disabled."
Eggers, who is divorced, lives in Deer Park with two of his three sons. Both of them work in computerized, call-center operations at Houston's Texas Medical Center.
He retired eight years ago as dock man from a Texas Petrochemicals plant in Houston.
Eggers is recovering from a heart attack he suffered after mowing the lawn on Oct. 18, a week after receiving his overdue medals.
He worships at Watters Road Church of Christ in Pasadena.
Ferguson said that Babin's local office helped a 91-year-old veteran get a prisoner of war medal. "Overall, in the entire district, our offices have helped veterans get their Purple Heart, Bronze Star and various medals," she said.
To contact the Deer Park office, call 832-780-0966.