Delegate Stacy Plaskett (D-VI) recently presented the Purple Heart to Vietnam veteran Dennis McIntosh, a Virgin Islands native who was injured in a May 1967 firefight in Quang Tri province while serving with the U.S. Marines in Vietnam.
In 2016 McIntosh received a belated Silver Star for the action in which he was injured.
McIntosh was joined at the ceremony by his family, friends, and Richard Schrader who wrote “Surviving Vietnam and Lost at Sea – The Dennis McIntosh Story.”
The Purple Heart is a combat decoration awarded to members of the U.S. armed forces who are wounded by an instrument of war in the hands of the enemy and posthumously to the next of kin in the name of those who are killed in action or die of wounds received in action.
“Mr. McIntosh and all Virgin Islands veterans come from a long legacy of service and sacrifice in the pursuit of freedom and justice. It is a fact that Virgin Islands veterans, like Mr. McIntosh, have long been among the first to answer America’s call to duty – in some cases, even fighting in defense of this great nation before we were officially a part of it,” Plaskett said in a statement.
“It is incumbent upon us all to honor the service and sacrifices of our heroes like Mr. McIntosh not just with accommodations and medals, but also by making good on the promises we made to them and their loved ones when they return from service,” she said, thanking McIntosh.
Born on St. Thomas, McIntosh has lived on St. Croix for decades.
Plaskett’s office did not provide information about why it took roughly 50 years to get his Purple Heart.
According to Stars and Stripes magazine, McIntosh, a squad leader with Company A, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, was out on a search-and-destroy operation in Quang Tri province on May 13, 1967, when his unit came under heavy fire from the North Vietnamese Army. Promoted to lance corporal that very morning, McIntosh took charge of his Marines after his platoon leaders became the first casualties, according to his medal citation. Hit by gunfire in his chest while assisting a wounded Marine, he carried that man to safety and returned to make two more rescues before collapsing.
Medical Corpsman Steven T. Rudolph, who had treated McIntosh during the firefight, pushed Rudolph pushed Lt. Col. Albert Slater – McIntosh’s commanding officer, who was also wounded in the fight – to submit the McIntosh for the Navy Cross, an award second only to the Medal of Honor. When the application was lost, Rudolph urged him to reapply, but died before the process was completed, according to Stars and Stripes.