Sgt. Barney Franich, Vietnam, 1970
RENO, NV - In a way the brief ceremony in Congressman Mark Amodei's office Monday afternoon marked not only the service, but the safe homecoming of an American soldier from a war fast receding in history's rear view mirror.
Like many young men of his generation, Daniel "Barney" Franich answered his country's call and found himself serving in the jungles of Vietnam.
His unit, the 2nd battalion, 14th Infantry, saw action at Cu Chi, northwest of Saigon and in what as known then as the Parrot's Beak, a refuge for Communist forces across the border in Cambodia.
One day in September of 1970, acting as squad leader, he saw an armored unit a short distance away from his patrol.
"I radioed in our position," he says, "because we were operating in the same area."
"About an hour and a half later they snuck up on us and lit us up, Our own guys."
He was wounded in the back and head.
Eventually he returned home, his wounds healed. He was ready to get on with his life and did.
"I came home I had a college education to get which I got. I didn't really dwell on it."
"I wouldn't trade the experience for anything," he says, adding with obvious emotion, "I saw fellows lose their lives"
But while exploring possible care for his mother, he mentioned his service and wounds to a VA representative and was encouraged to apply for a Purple Heart.
Discovery of a telegram notifying his parents of his wounds, sped things up and today a 42 year old oversight was corrected. One by one with family and press looking on, his wife pinned the Purple Heart, Good Conduct Medal and Vietnam Service Medal with two Bronze Service Stars
"It feels good, but as I've told everyone my main goal for getting this was so I could get a license plate." (Purple Heart commemorative plate). "That's what I want to get."
And now he can.
Congratulations and thanks for your service Barney.