Houston veteran gets long awaited honors

January 20, 2008 6:59:04 AM PST
He served his country in a time of need, but this Houston veteran fears his country forgot him in his time of need. Now our Action 13 Angels are helping out. Getting shot three times is what war veteran Kenneth Nelson, 75, remembers most about serving in Korea with the 2nd infantry division. For the last 30 years, Nelson has been waging his own battle to get his back disability benefits. That battle has become even more urgent. He has aggressive liver cancer and needs every dime the government owes him.

Kenneth's daughter Ruth Cortez said, "I want to believe that they are going to help Dad. I want to believe that they are going to send them a check, but at this point I'm still waiting. My dad's still waiting."

It seems his Korean War medals were also lost in the shuffle. But not for long after Action 13 Angels answered his call in full force. Harris County Veteran Officer Vince Morrison took it upon himself to straighten out the disability payments.

"We're going to make sure Mr. Nelson receives all his benefits he's entitled to for the great sacrifice he gave for this country," Morrison promised. "We're here to present your back payments from 1980 from the Department of Veteran Affairs."

The grand total was $25,000.

"It's long awaited and well deserved," Morrison said.

Representative Gene Green not only made those medals materialize, he thought it was important enough to make a house call.

He said, "Mr. Nelson is qualified for many decorations and we will give them to him."

Mr. Nelson stood ramrod straight, just as he did as a soldier as the congressman pinned on those medals one by one, and they were many. There were four bronze stars, a good conduct medal, Presidential unit citation, Korean service medal, combat infantryman badge 1st award, United Nations service medal, sharpshooter badge and marksman badge. There are 11 in all, including the most distinguished.

Rep. Green said, "We verified Mr. Nelson's entitlement to the Purple Heart."

And as a special gift...

"I want to present you a flag that flew over the United States Capitol. It was flown over last Memorial Day," said Rep. Green. "Everyone in our country thanks you for your service to our country."

Always a soldier, Mr. Nelson proudly saluted with a dedication that wasn't lost on an admiring future soldier -- his 11-year-old grandson Ricky.