WASHINGTON COUNTY, Ohio (WTAP) - Two Washington county veterans, whose heroic actions in Vietnam saved lives and have earned them various commendations over the years received a special honor, closer to home.
Staff Sergeant Regis Kern and the late specialist Kelly Burchett were among 22 inducted into the Ohio Military Hall of Fame for Valor Friday.
Kern, along with Burchett's wife Rita, accepted medals at a ceremony at the statehouse in Columbus.
Both men received various medals over the years for their heroic actions in Vietnam, which include purple hearts and bronze stars, that made them eligible for this honor.
In 1968, Kern's company was taking heavy fire and he took control of a nearby vehicle's machine gun and repelled the enemy, saving some of his fellow soldiers, while risking his own life. Meanwhile in 1967, Burchett, faced a similar circumstance, but against a mounting enemy force, he stayed behind to protect his infantry group and saved lives in the process.
"He was the radio man in the battle," Rita Burchett said. "He went into battle. They came under attack and he stayed there and defended his company until he himself was wounded and had to be taken out."
"It really humbles us to think what they did and to hear about what they did," Governor Mike Dewine said.
"It was kind of eye opener to hear stories you know over and over again as far as valor and saving people," Kern said, "and putting your life on the line just about every day that we were there."
Both kern and Rita believe Vietnam veterans are finally starting to get the recognition they deserve.
"He (Kelly) probably would be very proud," Rita added, "but he would just say he didn't know what all the fuss was about, it was just something he had to do, that was how he always talked about it."
"We talk about things that we didn’t really understand at the time," Kern said, "now fully understand, so I think that’s important for not just the veterans but the community to understand that."