KTVQ: Billings Soldier Receives Purple Heart 44 Years After Earning Award

A big day for a Vietnam veteran, 44 years after he was injured in the Au Shaw Valley.

Appreciation and perseverance brought the Purple Heart Award to a former soldier from Billings.

Corporal Rick Ketterling received four awards in front of the Montana Purple Heart Memorial on Thursday afternoon.

In February 1971, Ketterling was with the 2nd Battalion of the 94th Artillery Regiment.

Ketterling was burned and injured when a Howitzer malfunctioned and exploded, killing one of his fellow soldiers.

U.S. Sen. Steve Daines presented Ketterling with the Purple Heart with his family and friends on hand to celebrate.

“Kind of makes it all worth while,” Ketterling said. “I’m American and they’re Americans and I’d do it again for these people and the United States of America.”

“Well you heard what Rick said,” Daines said. “He said, ‘I’d do it again tomorrow.’  And that says a lot about Rick. His courage, and he understands about serving his country. Rick sacrificed to serve, and we’re grateful today we can pin this Purple Heart on him.”

“It’s pretty huge for Ricky Ketterling,” Ketterling said. “That’s for sure.”

Ketterling also received the Army Good Conduct Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal with one Bronze Star, and the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Citation with Palm Device.