SOUTH BEND TRIBUNE: Niles veteran receives medals decades after service.
Jul 22, 2012 -
By Kevin Allen -
Capt. Gordon Oeming enlisted in the Air Force during the Vietnam War and went on to give decades of his life in service to his country.
He also waited decades to be recognized for his military accomplishments.
The waiting ended Saturday, when U.S. Rep. Fred Upton presented Oeming with overdue service medals.
"I thank you for this," Oeming said humbly as the congressman pinned the medals to his uniform. "It's been a long time coming."
Upton, R-St. Joseph, delivered the medals during a ceremony at Silverbrook Manor, a nursing home where Oeming is a resident. Several other residents and nurses gathered to celebrate with Oeming and watch the presentation.
"We are a free nation because of our brave," Upton said.
Oeming was just 18 years old when he volunteered for military duty in 1965. He served in the Air Force until 1968, then in the Army from 1971 to '74 and later as a member of the Army Reserves until 1992. He completed three tours of duty in Vietnam and flew more than 365 missions in three years there.
The 65-year-old said receiving the medals Saturday brought back a lot of memories.
Upton said helping constituents obtain medals they've earned through military service is one of the most rewarding parts of his job.
The process for Oeming began when his daughter, Christina Herman, called the congressman's office about a Veterans Affairs issue. One of the staff members in the office asked Herman if her father had been acknowledged for his service in Vietnam.
"I said, 'No, he was actually spit on when he came back,'" Herman recounted.
Herman, who lives in Edwardsburg, was thankful to see her father receive the recognition he deserved Saturday.
"For a long time, I thought that superheroes were real," she said, "because I was raised by a superhero in my mind."