Vietnam Vet Gets 12 Medals
Retired Sgt. Ronald Rushia received a dozen combined medals and honors Friday, listed below.
Army Commendation Medal; Army Achievement Medal; Vietnam Service Medal with four bronze service stars; Armed Forces Reserve Medal with numeral 2; Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal with one silver oak leaf cluster; Army Service Ribbon, Army Reserve Components Overseas Training Ribbon with numeral 2; NCO Professional Development Ribbon with numeral 2; Combat Infantry Badge 1st award; Republic of Vietnam Campaign Ribbon with device (1960); Expert Badge with Rifle Bar and Marksman Badge with Auto Rifle Bar.
Forty-one years after leaving the war in Vietnam to return to the United States, a Whitehall man finally has received a measure of recognition for service to his country.
During a ceremony prior to last week’s meeting of the Washington County Board of Supervisors, Ronald Rushia received a dozen service medals and honors in front of friends, family and dignitaries.
Rushia was presented with the medals as well as an American flag by Congressman Scott Murphy. Introducing Murphy and Assemblyman Tony Jordan, Washington County Veterans Service Agency director Sam Hall perhaps put it best when he said there were no Republicans of Democrats when it came to honoring the sacrifices of those who served in the nation’s armed services.
“We’re all united in (honoring veterans),” Hall said.
Murphy called the collection of hardware at the podium stacked in a number of presentation cases “an incredibly impressive array of medals.”
With help from Murphy’s office, Rushia received honors that were due to him after leaving Vietnam in 1969.
“This is the best thing we get to do in this job as far as I’m concerned,” Murphy said before calling Rushia to the podium.
A disabled veteran, Rushia, 63, suffers from post traumatic stress disorder PTSD and is reluctant to talk about his war experiences in Vietnam.
Rushia hit the ground in Vietnam as an infantryman, on April 4, 1968.
As a part of the 5th Battalion, 12th Infantry of the 199th Light Infantry Brigade, known as the “Red Catchers,” Rushia fought in places with names like Long Binh, Xuan Loc and Bien Hoa. The 199th lost 754 men and had 4,670 wounded in action.
Rushia said he served 366 days in country.
On Aug. 20, even as Murphy and others gathered in the chambers of the Board of Supervisors to present him with medals for his service, Rushia had few words about his own accomplishments.
Rushia recognized his fellow veterans and friends in the crowd, all wearing the same Vietnam veterans organization T-shirts, as well as thanking those who helped get him the medals he had coming.
Rushia said he often thinks about “the 58,000 on the wall” referring to the black granite Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall in Washington, D.C., and the American casualties from the war.
“I spent 366 days there and I was just like all of the other people there. I don’t really like to talk about Vietnam because …there’s some reasons for that, OK? I respect everyone that was here today, everyone who’s on the wall … there’s really not much to say about myself,” Rushia said afterward.
Rushia, who was also recognized for spending 20 years in the Whitehall National Guard unit and 32 years in the food service department of Great Meadow and Washington Correctional facilities in Comstock, instead focused on the men he pushed to go and get something they had not been given – high school diplomas.
“Yeah, I got a bunch of ribbons and awards that I should have gotten before. There’s a bunch more out there that I should have received but that will happen someday. I want to thank the congressman and especially Judy who works on his staff; she was very helpful with all that,” Rushia said. “The most important part of the day for me was seeing my friends get their diplomas.”