Ozone Park veteran receives honor 40 years later

By Gina Martinez

After 40 years of battling with the U.S. Army, Ozone Park resident John D. Chichester, 69, is finally being recognized for his heroism in the Vietnam War with the help of City Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park).

Chichester was presented with the Bronze Star with Valor Device (“V” Device) March 12 at the American Legion Post 632 in Ozone Park. He was honored at the event, which drew around 40 people, including Vietnam Veterans of America National President John Rowan and veterans from several posts.

Chichester originally was awarded the “V” Device in 1968, but the military lost his records and rescinded his entitlement to the metal. The “V” Device is worn to show participation in acts of heroism involving conflict with an armed enemy.

The Vietnam vet turned to Ulrich’s office in December for help and his appeal to the Department of the Army was finally recognized. His discharge was amended to reflect that he had earned the “V” Device.

“Tonight we pay tribute to John D. Chichester’s selfless sacrifice defending our nation during the Vietnam War,” Ulrich said. “This award recognizes his heroism and exemplary service to our country and it is only a small token of appreciation for all that he has done on our behalf.”

Chichester spoke about the mission that led to his “V” Device.

“It was Dec. 3, 1968 and a 12-man mission,” he said. “We were ambushed by a North Vietnam unit. Our helicopter was blown up and four of our guys were killed, four of us wounded and three escaped.”

According to the citation his actions helped hold off the enemy and provide aid for the wounded until help could arrive.

Mayor’s Office of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Loree Sutton presented Chichester with a letter from Mayor de Blasio as well.

“Today is a proud day for the city of New York as we recognize the sacrifice and valor of one of our own veterans, John D. Chichester. Kudos to Mr.Chichester and all involved who kept the faith and fought to fully recognize his heroic combat service in Vietnam”

Chichester is glad the struggle is over and appreciative of Ulrich’s efforts.

“It’s a huge relief. It’s so bizarre that it took so much time to get it. I had all the evidence, but the Army has very strict protocol and without their original copy nothing could be done.”

He added, “Councilman Ulrich and his staff took change and did what they had to do, Political clout works wonders.”

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