Citrus Heights Vietnam War Veteran Awarded Purple Heart

CITRUS HEIGHTS, CA (MPG)  |  By Elise Spleiss
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Back row: (L-R) Kyle Parnell, Master Chief Petty Officer Parnell, USN, Josh Bonvillion, Todd Zancaner, Sgt. Patrick Parnell, USAF. Front row: (L-R) Roberta Williams with Khloe, Mrs. Karen Weiscopf with Weston, Purple Heart recipient Alan Weiscopf, Jaxton Bonvillion, Major General Lawrence Haskins, CA Army National Guard, Tosha Bonvillion, Keri Williams. Not shown: 2nd Lieutenant Robinson Hess, USAF ROTC. Photo courtesy Gigi Rayford

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Citrus Heights resident and retired U.S. Army Private Alan L. Weiscopf received his Purple Heart 47 years later.

CITRUS HEIGHTS, CA (MPG) – “It’s fantastic to be able to say goodbye to Vietnam.” These are the words of Citrus Heights resident and retired U.S. Army Private Alan L. Weiscopf, 66-years-old, upon receiving a Purple Heart awarded to him on June 8, 2018. The ceremony took place 47 years after he was wounded in 1972 while serving during his second tour of duty in Vietnam.

Weiscopf was presented with his Purple Heart and citation along with two other awards and recognition for his service in Vietnam at a ceremony held at Stone’s Gambling Hall in Citrus Heights. A small group of family, friends, dignitaries and media members were present to preserve the moment and celebrate with him.

Matthew Ceccato, District Director for the Office of Congressman Ami Bera, welcomed guests and recognized veterans present. He explained the significance of the Purple Heart then introduced Major General Lawrence Haskins, Commander of the California Army National Guard, who would pin the long overdue medal on Weiscopf’s jacket.

Weiscopf spent two tours in the Central Highlands of Vietnam, serving as an Infantryman with the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat and Team (Sky Soldiers) from January 1970 to January 1971.  He also served as an Infantryman with the 1st Calvary Division (CAV) on the outskirts of Saigon from December 1971 to February 1972.

The Certificate of Recognition from the City of Citrus Heights describes Weiscopf’s injuries: “On patrol on February 13, 1972, during Weiscopf’s second tour in Vietnam, his unit stumbled upon a nest of the North Vietnamese Army and was attacked.  During the firefight, Weiscopf was struck in the left cheek by a piece of shrapnel from a grenade.”

The Purple Heart is the oldest military medal and was originally designed and ordered by General Washington on August 7, 1782. Since then it has been redesigned to honor “all service members who were killed or wounded on behalf of the United States government.”

According to Ceccato, “As of today (6/8/18), 313,794 were awarded for service in Vietnam and today I can proudly say we can add one more to those ranks.”

He also received the Vietnam Service Award “given to members for service during the Vietnam War by all members of the U.S. armed forces.”

Weiscopf’s third award was the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross, “a military decoration the former government of South Vietnam created in 1950 and awarded to military personnel, and civilians, and armed forces units and other organizations in recognition of deeds of valor or heroic conduct in combat with the enemy.”

Following the ceremony, Weiscopf stated he had tried 30 years ago to obtain his medal but was told his medical records could not be found so he “just gave up.” He got on with his life until he inquired again and was told they had run out of the medals which were back ordered.

The long wait came to an end and the presentation set into motion by military veteran’s advocates Marcia “GiGi” Rayford and Porsche Middleton who, upon realizing their friend had served and been wounded in Vietnam but had never received his Purple Heart, contacted the office of Congressman Ami Bera who took care of the paperwork and supplied the medal to be presented to Weiscopf.             

Weiscopf is the third of four proud generations to serve their country since World War I. Stepsons Sergeant Patrick Parnell, U.S. Air Force, and Chief Petty Officer Chris Parnell, U.S. Navy, stood by his side along with soon to be fifth generation, his grandson Robinson Hess, a member of the U.S. Air Force ROTC at California State University, Sacramento.

Along with his awards, Weiscopf finally heard the words that are music to the ears of thousands of Vietnam veterans who returned home in the 1960s and 1970’s but are only now hearing: “Welcome Home.”  Now they can get on with their lives.

A large thank you went to Stone’s for the use of their facility and hospitality during the event, to the staff at the office of Congressman Ami Bera and veteran advocates Porsche Middleton and Marcia “GiGi” Rayford for working together to make this event a reality.