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Keith Johnson, Deseret News
Allen Malo, right, hugs his son, Sgt. 1st Class Jeff Malo, while Allen's wife, Linda, applauds at the Capitol Monday.

Wounded after his fuel truck hit a land mine during the Vietnam War, Allen Malo didn't think much about the fact that he never received a Purple Heart medal.

"It was just one of those things. We were in the height of war. Paperwork gets messed up, and there's confusion," the Vietnam veteran said.

It bothered his son, Jeff Malo, a 21-year member of the Utah National Guard who said his father needed to be appropriately recognized, even if it came 42 years after the November 1967 event.

After a lot of effort and phone calls, Allen Malo received the medal in a ceremonial presentation Monday in the Utah state Capitol rotunda.

"I am so excited and proud," the Farmington resident said afterward. "I am proud of my son, my family, for pursuing this."

The medal presentation coincided with Utah's third annual "Wreaths Across America" program and a Pearl Harbor observance.

A wreath adorned with flags representing all the branches of the military was blessed with a prayer and will hang at the Capitol as a reminder of the fallen men and women of the military, prisoners of war and soldiers missing in action and those serving in combat.

Similar events were held simultaneously in 39 states across the county in a national program started 16 years ago. Members of the Patriot Guard riders also will escort 120,000 of the wreaths to be placed at Arlington National Cemetery later this month.

In Utah, the program is coordinated by Utah Veterans of Foreign Wars Senior Vice Commander Dennis Howland, who said it is a good way to remember not only veterans and active duty military members, but families who have sacrificed as well.

"This is a reminder for those who have empty places at their holiday dinners," because a loved one is away serving in the military, he said.

For more information about the program, go to www.wreathsacrossamerica.org.

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