Today, at the Armed Services Recruiting Center in Lancaster, 1st Sgt. Ron Gentry, USMC (Ret.) received a Bronze Star Medal with Combat "V" for heroic actions in Vietnam in 1966. While nominated by his commanding officer, the medal was not processed and awarded while Gentry was in the service. Since 2006, Congressman Joe Pitts (PA-16) has been working with Gentry to get the medal.
"After so many years, it is wonderful to see 1st Sgt. Gentry receive the recognition that he deserves," said Pitts. "He risked his life a countless number of times and his actions in combat saved lives. I'm proud to be able to work together with a fellow Vietnam veteran to get him this medal he was nominated for so long ago."
While in Vietnam, Gentry volunteered as a forward artillery observer deep within enemy territory. He directed effective fire missions day and night while under hostile fire. While voluntarily leading a dangerous reconnaissance mission, the lead vehicle in the unit struck a mine. Gentry coordinated a helicopter evacuation and returned to base camp. He volunteered to lead subsequent missions to first recover and then render the mine struck vehicle useless.
Gentry was nominated for the Bronze Star by his commanding officer, but not made aware of the award until years later. Gentry reconnected with his former commanding officer, Lt. Col. Thomas Hancock, who offered to help him get the award. After being initially denied by the Marine Corps because of the length of time that had passed, Gentry began working with Congressman Pitts to appeal.
While Hancock passed late last year, Mrs. Thomas Hancock was present for today's ceremony.