HELENA — For Lowell “Elton” Carver, getting his medals wasn’t about public pageantry or boasting rights.
It was simply because the Vietnam veteran deserved them.
On Friday, the 72-year-old Black Eagle resident received three medals from Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., at the American Legion Conference at Fort Harrison.
When asked how he felt about getting them after nearly 50 years, he offered “Not too bad.”
Carver, an aviation electronics technician petty officer 3rd class, served in the Navy from Oct. 30, 1963, to Oct. 27, 1967. For nearly two of those years, he served on the USS Hancock as a helicopter rescue crewman, Daines’ office stated.
Carver said he had to ask for his medals because the Navy “never bothered” to give them to him. He said approached Daines’ office for help. “Daines got them for me,” he said.
Carver received the Navy Good Conduct Medal, which is given for three years of honorable and faithful service; the National Defense Service Medal and the Vietnam Service Medal with Three Bronze Stars, which is given to all Armed Service members who served in Vietnam.
Daines thanked Carver on behalf of a grateful nation, chatted with him after the presentation and said goodbye to Carver before leaving the event.
Carver said that nation didn’t seemed so grateful when he returned back to the states.
He said Vietnam veterans were treated like dirt and many did not wear a uniform in public.
Today, that is all different with soldiers routinely praised. He thinks that may be due to the Vietnam years.
“We support our troops because of the way we were treated,” he said.
He volunteered for the Navy, saying volunteers could pick their preferred branch of the service.
“I didn’t want to go into the Army,” he said.
After the war, Carver was an engineer who worked with computers. He’s an active member of American Legion Post 341 and VFW Post 1087.
And he goes to high schools and encourages students to polish their oratory skills and to participate in Boys State, the leadership and citizenship programs offered by the American Legion that Daines said he participated in as a teen.
As for the medals, he said he will pass them along to this children.
“I just deserved them,” he said.