TAMPA -- A U.S. Army Special Forces radio operator who served in Vietnam is finally being recognized for gallantry, officials from U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson's office said Monday.
Ralph A. Morgan, 62, who now lives in Parrish, saved his platoon when it came under heavy rocket and mortar fire in an isolated Vietnam outpost almost 42 years ago, officials said.
According to those present on the night of June 4, 1971, Morgan intentionally moved around his outpost deep in enemy territory to draw fire away from his platoon and toward himself, according to a release from the office of Nelson, D-Florida.
Morgan held off the enemy with just an M16 rifle long enough for his platoon to retreat to a safe perimeter location to be picked up by helicopter, it said.
Nelson plans to pin the long-overdue Silver Star Medal on Morgan's chest at a special ceremony today at USO Tampa Bay, the release said.
Morgan's son, Jacob, and daughter, Kristen, will be there along with other family members. It will be the first such presentation at the new USO center.
The Silver Star Medal is the military's third-highest decoration for valor, awarded specifically for gallantry in action against an enemy, the release said.
"I'm honored," Morgan said when informed Nelson had recovered his award, which had originally been approved June 13, 1972.
For reasons unknown, paperwork for Morgan's Silver Star Medal was never processed; Morgan contacted Nelson's office recently after hearing about a group of other veterans the senator had helped get medals for their actions during the Vietnam War, the release said.