Vet gets Purple Heart after 44 years

Published 8:47 am Monday, November 12, 2012

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — More than 40 years after suffering a serious head injury during the Vietnam War, a Bloomington veteran was awarded the Purple Heart on Saturday.

“It’s hard to explain what it means,” said Mike Kirkpatrick, 68. “I’m amazed.”

Kirkpatrick was presented his medal, given to all service members hurt or killed by enemy fire, by Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar during a ceremony at Bloomington City Hall.

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“It’s more than I expected,” he said. “I just did my duty.”

Kirkpatrick was serving as a Navy hospital corpsman in Vietnam in 1968 when someone near him stepped on an explosive device. It detonated and sprayed out a shower of shrapnel, including a shard that struck Kirkpatrick in the head. He was so focused on helping a wounded radio operator that he didn’t realize blood was streaming from his wound until someone else thrust a wad of field dressing toward his injury.