Vietnam veteran presented with Bronze Star after 48 years

In 1971, Al Shryer was awarded the Bronze Star for his actions while serving in Vietnam.

It was his second tour to Vietnam with the Army, but he never received his medal.

On Wednesday, Sen. Steve Daines presented him with the medal and accompanying citations for his actions as an enlisted man working in logistics in Vietnam, where he handled laundry, the bakery and instituted a program that saved the Army $19,500 over the course of a year.

Shryer served 20 years in the Army, retiring in 1983.

It wasn’t until about a year ago when he was going through old paperwork with his daughter Sherri Lauver that they came across his DD Form 214, which listed the Bronze Star among his awards.

Lauver said she asked her father about it, who said he’d never received the medal but did have a letter congratulating him on the award.

Lauver said she told her father that he should get the medal and brought it up to her coworker, Ross Lukkason, at the state job service office in Great Falls.

Lukkason works with disabled veterans and he got in touch with Daines’ office to get paperwork rolling.

During a ceremony at the VFW Post 1087 on Oct. 9, Shryer finally received his medal in front of family, friends and members of the local veteran community.

“It brought tears to my eyes,” Lauver said.

She was young when he was in the military and said some of her best memories were going through his trunks he brought home and finding canisters of crackers or other food he hadn’t eaten.

When he talked about Vietnam, she said, “he was very proud of it.” But he recalled the lack of a welcoming when he and others returned from war and he was glad that had changed in recent years.

“So I said you know what, you gotta get that welcome home,” Lauver said.

Shryer joined the Army in 1962, just two weeks out of high school. His father was in the military and his brothers also served.

He wasn’t drafted since “I knew what I wanted to do. I loved the military.”

He was a diesel mechanic and his first tour to Vietnam was June 1965 to June 1966.

Shryer told The Electric after the ceremony that he thought his award was from that tour and he’d never read the recommendation for his award before Wednesday when Daines’ staff read it aloud.

For that first tour, he was assigned to Bien Hoa and for the second tour, the one for which he was awarded the Bronze Star, Shryer said he was assigned to Nha Trang Air Base.

During his first tour as a diesel mechanic, Shryer said he went out to get broken down equipment, which had typically been blown up.

“We had a big job,” he said.

That’s when he was exposed to Agent Orange, which caused his cancer, Shryer said.

On Wednesday, he was thrilled to received his medal 48 years after it had been awarded.

“I think it’s so cool,” he said. “It’s making my day to say the least.”

During the ceremony, Daines said that Shryer’s cost savings to the military would be worth $123,000 in today’s dollars.

“We need more of you,” Daines said. “Your actions reflect great credit upon you and the United States Army.”