BY DOMENICK RAFTER
It took 40 years, but one Queens veteran finally got the honor he deserves.
Sgt. John D. Chichester of South Ozone Park, a veteran of the Vietnam War, was awarded his Bronze Star with Valor Device last week at American Legion Post 632 in Ozone Park after more than four decades of fighting with federal officials to prove he was worthy of the honor.
Chichester earned his Bronze Star with “V” Device in 1968 for his heroic actions in a battle in Vietnam, where he held off enemy fire long enough for wounded American soldiers to be removed from the battlefield. However, shortly thereafter, the military lost his records and consequently rescinded the medal. That led to a four decade-long battle with the Department of the Army and Veterans Administration to get his medal restored.
He contacted Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park), who chairs the Council’s Veterans Committee, last December. With the help of Ulrich’s staff and supporting documentation, which Chichester had, but couldn’t get into the right hands, his appeal was finally granted and the Army amended his discharge to reflect his entitlement to the “V” Device.
Assemblyman Philip Goldfeder (D-Ozone Park) and Ulrich also honored the veteran with New York State’s Conspicuous Service Cross and the State’s Conspicuous Service Star. Mayor’s Office of Veterans Affairs Commissioner, and former Army Brigadier General, Loree Sutton was also present at the ceremony last week and presented the veteran a letter from Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“I feel vindicated,” Chinchester told the crowd of fellow veterans, neighbors and relatives who packed the American Legion Hall last week. “I feel good.”