Only one problem.
“His bag never followed him home,” said his daughter, Woodbury resident Donna Smith-Stafford, who is active in the .
During Monday’s , Smith was awarded his Purple Heart once again.
“I didn’t want to pin it on him in his casket,” she said.
Smith doesn’t look back on his military service as a time of glory, Smith-Stafford said, and usually tells his family: “This was what I had to had to do.”
“I want him to remember himself as a hero,” Smith-Stafford said. “He doesn’t ever think of himself that way. But to me, he is.”
Smith-Stafford spent the past year contacting government officials to get a new Purple Heart, and the former athlete from the eastside of St. Paul was recognized Monday at the Woodbury Veterans Memorial.
“I finally got it back,” Smith told Patch after the ceremony, when several people came up to him and thanked him for his service.
While his first Purple Heart medallion never returned stateside, Smith noted a different kind of memento from his time in the Marines—one he’ll never be without.
“I still have the souvenirs,” he said, pointing to bullet entry and exit wounds on his arm.