Kenneth Duncan stands next to Heidi after receiving his Purple Heart medal.
Duncan's family gather for a picture with Congressman Steven Palazzo and Waveland Mayor David Garcia.
Kenneth Duncan in uniform.
WAVELAND, MS (WLOX) -
A Waveland man was finally honored with an award he was supposed to receive 46 years ago Tuesday afternoon.
In 1968 Kenneth Duncan, who was a sergeant in the Army, was told he would get the Purple Heart, but after he got out of the Army he immediately joined the Merchant Marine and didn't follow up on getting the medal.
Those honoring him with the Purple Heart medal say the recognition has been long overdue.
The National Anthem begins a ceremony recognizing Kenneth Duncan for his service to our country while fighting in Vietnam. In 1968 the Army sergeant suffered a hit to the right leg by shrapnel during the Tet Offensive in Vietnam.
"When you're hit, your adrenaline is pumping; you don't actually realize you've been hit. Somebody in the bunker had yelled out that somebody had been hit because the blood was running on the floor of the conex. And as we were checking each other than that was when I realized that I had been hit," Duncan recalled.
Duncan knew he would be eligible for the Purple Heart, but he says he never pursued receiving it until now.
"The main thing is we're here today to celebrate Sergeant Kenneth Duncan who served three tours in Vietnam back to back and that's unheard of. And he was also a door gunner in a huey and anybody can tell you a door gunner in a huey is one of your most dangerous positions in combat," Congressman Steven Palazzo said.
After hearing so many of his war stories over the years family members say they're proud to see Duncan get the recognition he deserves.
"It's great. It's a great feeling. I mean this is something that he earned before we were born. So it's kind of an honor to be able to watch him receive it," said Duncan's daughter Carissa Hartshorn.
"The things that he's done, the things that he's been through, I'm proud of him," said Duncan's daughter Shantell Duncan.
Duncan's acceptance of the Purple Heart is what he considers a capstone to his military career and an award for his greatest contribution to his country.
"This is a great country we live in and the price of freedom is a clique now, but the price of freedom is not cheap," Duncan said.
Duncan also received a Merchant Marine Vietnam Service medal as well.