Tester honors Great Falls veteran with Purple Heart recognition
Senator fixes decades-old oversight to help Vietnam hero receive due medical care
(GREAT FALLS, Mont.) – Before more than 100 Montanans lending their support, Senator Jon Tester today honored a Vietnam veteran with recognition 45 years overdue.
In a moving ceremony at the VFW in Great Falls, Tester presented Marvin Brewster, who was wounded in combat in 1966, with the Purple Heart Award Certificate and six other decorations.
Brewster, a lifelong resident of Great Falls, received his Purple Heart medal years ago, but it was never entered into his official records. After looking into the case, Tester secured a revised discharge form to “fix the record once and for all.” In doing so, Tester also discovered that Brewster had not received several other decorations he earned in Vietnam.
“These decorations are small tokens, but they are powerful symbols of true heroism, sacrifice, and dedication to service,” Tester said at the ceremony. “They are presented on behalf of a grateful nation that wishes you and your family the very best in the future.”
During the ceremony, Tester also shared praise of Brewster from Brewster’s former commander, Col. C.H. Bodley, in 1966:
“Your eagerness to serve, unswerving loyalty and professional ability have earned you the respect and confidence of all who have been associated with you,” Bodley wrote. “It is indeed a pleasure to have men of your caliber in my command and I highly commend you for a job well done.”
Brewster and his wife Marylou were joined at the ceremony by their daughters Becky and Katie and their grandchildren. Brewster contacted Tester’s office after he applied for VA medical benefits, but was denied certain care because the VA did not have record of his Purple Heart.
“May history show that there is no question you are – and have been – an honored recipient of the Purple Heart,” Tester said as he handed Brewster an updated discharge form.
In addition to the Purple Heart, Brewster received the Navy Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal with three Bronze Stars, the Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon, the Combat Action Ribbon, and the Vietnam Campaign Medal with 1960 Device.
Brewster remains active in the Great Falls community, volunteering at Toys for Tots, the Marine Corps League, and the Great Falls Farmers Market. An artist, Brewster also sculpted the 13-foot angel statue at the Montana Veterans’ Memorial in Great Falls.
“Through all of his work in this community, Marv never asked for recognition,” Tester said. “He just did as all Marines do—the very best he could on behalf of his fellow citizens.”
Tester’s remarks, available below, will be entered into the Congressional Record.
U.S. Senator Jon Tester
Honoring Marvin Brewster
November 15, 2011
Mr. Tester. Mr. President, I rise today in honor of Marvin Brewster, a veteran of the Vietnam War. And a familiar volunteer in the community of Great Falls, Montana. For years, Marv has been very active in Toys for Tots. And the Marine Corps League. And the Great Falls Farmers Market.
Marv Brewster is also an artist. He sculpted the 13-foot angel that graces the Montana Veterans’ Memorial. Anyone who has visited that memorial has no doubt been uplifted by the power and comfort of Marv’s statue.
Through all of his work in this community, Marv never asked for recognition. He just did as all Marines do—the very best he could on behalf of his fellow citizens.
Forty-six years ago, Marv joined the Navy. He served with M Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines as a combat corpsman in Vietnam.
Mr. President, I would like to read what Colonel C.H. Bodley, the commander of the 3rd Battalion, said to Marv in 1966. And this is a direct quote: “You have performed your duties as Platoon Corpsman in an outstanding manner… Your potential was more fully exploited as you participated in eight major operations and numerous small unit activities. On ‘Operation Mallard’ the company sustained 13 casualties from Viet Cong small arms and mortar fire. Without hesitation, you moved through the area administering aid and comforting those in need of your assistance… Your performance on ‘Operation Mallard’ is indicative of the consistently fine work you have been doing. Your eagerness to serve, unswerving loyalty and professional ability have earned you the respect and confidence of all who have been associated with you. It is indeed a pleasure to have men of your caliber in my command and I highly commend you for a job well done.”
On April 21, 1966, Marv was wounded in combat during “Operation Hot Springs.” For his sacrifice, he received a Purple Heart.
Marv got the medal. But his Purple Heart was never recorded in his official records. The Navy said it was the Marines’ job. The Marines said it was the Navy’s job.
Decades later, Marv Brewster reached out to my office to fix his record once and for all. So he could access the health benefits he earned as he faces another tough challenge: Cancer, related to Agent Orange exposure in Vietnam.
Yesterday, it was my honor to present Marv with the Purple Heart Award Certificate he should have received nearly 50 years ago. And with it, a corrected “DD 215” discharge form.
History shows us that Marv is an honored recipient of the Purple Heart, and all the benefits that come with it.
In researching Marv’s records, we learned that Marv never received several other decorations he earned years ago.
Yesterday, I also had the honor of presenting to Marv, the Navy Good Conduct Medal, and the National Defense Service Medal.
It was also my honor to present the Vietnam Service Medal with three Bronze Stars, and the Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon.
Yesterday I also presented to Marv: the Combat Action Ribbon, and the Vietnam Campaign Medal with 1960 Device.
These decorations are small tokens, but they are powerful symbols of true heroism. Sacrifice. And dedication to service.
These medals are presented on behalf of a grateful nation that wishes you and your family, Marv, the very best in the future.