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Ex-Marine recognized for service in Vietnam

Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, with combat distinguishing device (Photo by Lance Cpl. Christopher Zahn)
September 07, 2019

A Fort Smith resident was honored for his service during the Vietnam War on Wednesday.

U.S. Rep. Steve Womack and U.S. Sen. John Boozman presented Cpl. Richard E. Cosner III with the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with Combat ‘V’ during a ceremony at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday at 21 West End in Fort Smith. The certificate Cosner also received states the medal was for meritorious achievement while serving as radio operator assigned to Company H, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines from May 24 to Nov. 8, 1969, in Vietnam.

“During multiple encounters with the enemy, Cpl. Cosner repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire to ensure dynamic command and control communications between the company commander and rifle platoons,” the certificate states. “He was vital in coordinating unit movements with artillery and air-support, thereby allowing the company to destroy enemy positions and repel repeated assaults. On 18 June 1969, his effective communications were crucial in the destruction of a large enemy force and the withdrawal of his reconnaissance team.”

Cosner said he felt honored and humbled the people who were present at the event took the time to be part of it.

“It’s a very humbling experience, and quite an honor for me that Sen. Boozman and Congressman Womack would take their time to come and present the medal because I know they’ve got a lot more important things to do,” Cosner said.

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The United States, Womack said, continues to “do the right thing” when it fails the first time around.

“When these warriors came home, they were spat upon, they deboarded planes at the sight of people burning American flags,” Womack said. “It was a very sad chapter in this country’s long history, and for the last half century plus, we’ve been making amends for that, and today we’re doing it again.”

Womack said he could not imagine what happened to Cosner’s paperwork when he should have been awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with Combat ‘V’. However, it was a great moment in Womack’s office when Womack’s military fellow, Marine ?Lt. Col. Alex Warthen, took Cosner’s cause personally about a year ago and said he would fix it. Wednesday’s celebration was accomplished with the help of Boozman and others.

Boozman said Cosner is a true hero in every sense of the word, including serving his country and how he has lived his life.

“He loves the Lord, he loves his family, and he’s been a big part of his community as represented here, so thank you, Dick, so much,” Boozman said.

Two men who served with Cosner in Vietnam, Carl A. Anderson and Dave Schultes, also spoke at the event.

The occasion served as Womack’s second public event in Fort Smith on Wednesday. At 1:30 p.m., Womack spoke at a meeting of the Fort Smith Junior Leadership Academy, according to a news release. He spoke to students part who are of the ABB Youth Apprenticeship Program for advanced manufacturing in Arkansas at ABB at 3:30 p.m.

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© 2019 Times Record