Purple Heart: Herman Johnson. Junk Yard Dog Award: Fred “Raw Man” Rivera
We really DO need you to keep this secret: no sharing as you usually do on Facebook. We want you to be part of the surprise that will occur in Washington, DC and the Vietnam War Memorial on July 10th.
Those of you who have followed the story know that central to Fred Rivera’s award winning narration of his time in Vietnam (Raw Man, published 2014 by AWwYP), Fred’s best friend Herman Johnson bled to death in Fred’s arms. You also know by now that in May Fred discovered that Herman DID NOT DIE, though Herman remembers passing out, and waking up with a yellow tag on his toe. In spite of a head wound (shrapnel still pays rent in Herman’s skull,) Herman was never awarded a Purple Heart.
To address this injustice, Fred got a hold of Herman’s congressman, Sander Levin, and several officers in the military chain of command, filled out all proper documentation, and proceeded as if the pinnacle of the reunion would be Herman Johnson receiving his Purple Heart from Retired Lt. General Guy C. Swan III.
But we hit a snag, a notorious catch .22 of the variety that many people falsely believe defines our army and government bureaucracies: Herman could not be “dusted” (removed from the field) because of the intensity and demands on the battlefield, and in order for his documentation to be completed for his Purple Heart, he needed a signature from an officer—not just the medic who treated him. Herman had in fact been severely wounded—but all the officers in the field were so busy engaging the enemy that had inflicted the wounds that they had no time to document!
Enter Junk Yard Dog Fred Rivera. He wasn’t about to let anyone take his bone from him. He was both diplomatic and fierce, and engaged Lt. General Swan and Congressman Levin who were equally dismayed by what looked to be a dead end. Overriding protocols, they intervened, and even as this post is being published, The Purple Heart that Herman Johnson paid for in blood (and Fred Rivera paid for in 47 years of grief and mourning) is being overnighted to the congressmen, and Lt. General Swan will personally present it to Herman Johnson at the statue of the three soldiers in front of the Wall on July 10th.
”Men of insight, men of granite. Knights in armor intent on chivalry” (Van Morrison) do exist. They rallied together to make this happen, as did those of you who contributed to our GoFundMe campaign.
If you have not yet contributed and wish to be a part of this, here is the link to the campaign.
Most of us, including myself, are self-funding our expenses, but we still have an obligation to cover the film crew. Please donate if you can. What better way to acknowledge The Fourth of July?
Beats waving a flag in parade.
Please remember not to broadcast this on FB. Herman does not own a computer or smart phone, but if his family sees this posted on FB, they may spoil the surprise. True to our GoFundMe tag line: Miracles do happen.
Happy Fourth of July. Thanks in advance, those of you who will buy one less six pack for the bar-b-que in order to donate the fireworks we’re going to ignite on July tenth.
Friend and Editor to Fred Rivera