CLEBURNE COUNTY, Ark. — A letter from 1971 recently surfaced and helped a local veteran receive a medal of valor that he earned nearly 50 years ago during the Vietnam War.
Kent Hallen, 70, is retired now.
But, back when he was 19 years old, he played a crucial role in the recovery of ammunition that likely saved the lives of more than 150 of his fellow soldiers.
Hallen says he and his group ran out of bullets at one point during the battle with the enemy.
An emergency ammunition drop was made about 155 feet away from his group — closer to where the enemy was attacking.
“I stood there in my foxhole contemplating that I wasn’t going to be a casualty or a POW,” Hallen recalls.
“And, I low crawled with no gun and no weaponry whatsoever; they in the foxhole could not defend me because we were out of bullets.”
He eventually got to the box of ammunition and was able to get it back to his group so they could reload.
In 1971, a letter was written up to recognize Hallen with a medal of valor, but it never got to Hallen.
Cleburne county judge Jerry Holmes got word of it and organized an official presentation at the county courthouse Friday.
“I don’t know that he was looking for any recognition, but he deserves it,” Holmes says.
Hallen was greeted with a round of applause and a standing ovation from dozens of grateful supporters.
Hallen, whose action spoke louder than words, was basically left speechless as a reaction.
“I don’t even know how to describe it.”