MURRIETA, Calif. (AP) — An Army veteran was awarded the Bronze Star this week for his heroism in a Vietnam War battle that left more than 50 fellow U.S. soldiers dead and close to 200 injured.
Retired Sgt. Joseph Engles was presented with the military distinction on Monday during a ceremony in his hometown of Murrieta, in Southern California, for gallantry in the face of the enemy during the Battle of Suoi Tre in March 1967.
Former Army Maj. Gen. Juilian Burns, who presented the award, said Engles was seriously wounded on the battlefield but continued to man his gun and return fire at the enemy. Burns said that when military officials spoke to those who witnessed the battle, "we came to realize Joe was more than just a gunner."
Engles was seriously wounded during the battle, but he continued to man his gun and return fire, Burns said in a statement.
"As the battle commenced with intense rocket and grenade and sniper fire, he (Engles) manned the gun and commanded his team to return fire," the statement said. "When a rocket landed close, without regard for his personal safety he neutralized the enemy ordnance and continued the mission."
After battlefield medics removed shrapnel from Engles' arm, he immediately returned to his gun to continue fighting, Burns said.