A hero’s welcome home–43 years later

Troop 31’s Ray Coe honored at last for honorable military & community service


For Ray Coe, the experience of returning home from the Vietnam War was a far cry from the jubilant and packed Hillendale Elementary gymnasium; filled with patriotic well-wishers, who gathered to witness the long overdue military medal ceremony held in his honor last night.

Attendees give Coe a long overdue hero’s reception.
Attendees give Coe a long overdue hero’s reception.

“I had no idea the scope of what was going to happen tonight…this kind of reception was just unimaginable to me when I returned home 43 years ago.”  Due to the political climate and anti-war movements of that era, American service members returning home from Vietnam were most often given a chilly reception; mocked and rarely, if ever, thanked for their service.

In Coe’s case, he was never officially presented with several prestigious medals, including the Bronze Star,  the Army Commendation Medal with “V” device for valor exhibited in combat, National Defense Service Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge, Vietnam Campaign Medal and four US Army Marksmanship Qualification Badges (Sharpshooter Badge, Automatic Rifle, Pistol and Rifle Bars.)

While serving 13 months in Vietnam, Coe narrowly survived four near-death experiences and witnessed regular, horrific trauma to his brothers-in-arms. One example is while serving with A Troop, 3rd Squadron, 4th Calvary he was involved in a reconnaissance operation when the lead vehicle detonated an enemy land mine; which in turn, initiated an enemy attack. Despite being injured in the initial blast, Coe helped move a wounded comrade from the vehicle while exposing himself to hostile fire.  His bravery and commitment to his duty was a major reason why his fellow soldier survived. “As you can imagine, it is very difficult for me to talk about the war.  When you see that much trauma, it keeps on ‘giving’…I think about those experiences every day.”  His selfless actions that day earned Ray Coe the Purple Heart. Read more

(By Kim Chiomento, Staff Writer, The Times. The Boy Scouts of America Communications Department was not involved in the creation of this content.)


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