People with disabilities that seem to overwhelm them at times can take a lesson from Jack R. Pettit, who at age 20 lost both his legs in the Vietnam War.
The South Jordan man, who through the use of artificial legs was able to march in the Veterans Day Parade last November in Salt Lake City, was recently presented a number of awards stemming from heroic action during the war.In a gathering of the James R. Thomas Jr. Chapter of the Disabled American Veterans, Pettit, now 38, was presented the Bronze Star Medal with "V" Device for Valor and several other military decorations.
Presented by Col. Paul Liston of the 96th U.S. Army Reserve Command, the other awards include the Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster, the National Defense Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, the Combat Infantry Badge, the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Ribbon, the Expert Rifle Badge and Sharpshooter Badge for automatic rifle.
DAV chapter Commander Jim Tevis said Pettit was injured Dec. 31, 1970, while serving as an armored reconnaissance specialist and member of a combat patrol in Vietnam. The Utahn and his unit came under heavy enemy small arms fire near Tam Ky.
Tevis said the chapter is proud to honor Pettit, who required long treatment in Army hospitals before receiving a medical discharge.
Collie Mattfeld, Disabled American Veterans national service officer, commended Pettit for his courage in overcoming many traumatic injuries.
"We should be proud of our veterans for the contributions they make to our country through personal sacrifice. We are very proud of Jack, as we are of any veteran who gives of himself or his time to his country," said Mattfeld, who read a general order authorizing the awards. "We are proud, too, of our women veterans, who have long been overlooked," Mattfeld said.
Pete Martinez, Disabled American Veterans service officer, discovered that Pettit never received the medals and requested that they be awarded.
"I really appreciate the Army. Some guys were down on it, but I had a good time," Pettit recalled. "I really appreciate these honors," he said with tears in his eyes.