HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ohio - This Veterans Day, a local veteran received an honor 46 years past due.
Elected officials, service members, friends and family gathered at the Highland Heights City Hall Monday morning to recognize Marine Corporal Michael Barna, who received the Bronze Star.
Barna served in the Vietnam War in the late 60s.
Highland Heights Mayor Scott Coleman set the scene for today's recognition.
"I want to go back to April 26, 1967," Coleman said. "I was six years old, very carefree… I think the biggest thing we had to think about was, ‘Should we stop and play in the creek on the way, or be on time for school?' We didn't know that 6,800 miles away in Vietnam that Mr. Michael Barna had a few more decisions that weren't as carefree as ours. He had a lot going on that day, and we're here to honor him for his bravery and his efforts."
On that day, Barna put his life on the line to save another man's life.
The commendation said it all:
"Corporal Michael J. Barna, while on patrol with his squad, was ambushed amid heavy enemy activity on April 26, 1967. Corporal Barna exposed himself to intense enemy fire to pull a critically wounded corpsman from the line of fire and provide medical aid to same. Corporal Barna, with continued risk to his life, ensured safety and medical transport and ultimate survival of the corpsman and resulting award of the Bronze Star Medal. In recognition of this award and his selfless act of bravery, the city of Highland Heights commends Michael Barna on his distinguished honor and extends its very best wishes for continued health, safety and wealth."
Several elected officials presented awards to Barna, including Representative David Joyce, of Ohio's 14 th congressional district, who gave Barna a certificate of congressional recognition and achievement, as well as a flag that flew over the U.S. Capitol.
"I certainly thank you from the bottom of my heart for everybody in the 14 th district and everybody in our country for your tremendous service," Joyce said.
The Veterans Peace Memorial of Highland Heights donated a check for $100 in Barna's name to the Wounded Warrior Project.
Two active Marines presented Barna with the Bronze Star recognizing his heroic achievements in combat.
A modest hero, Barna said today's recognition is not about the medal he received.
"The medal means as much to me as Doc Knox being alive and well, and that's the most important thing to me," Barna said. "The medal's fine, but it's him that made it through. It's amazing what he had to go through to get healed."
Barna thanked the crowd for recognizing an act of heroism he performed 46 years ago.
"Thank you all for coming. It's a real honor to have you here. God bless you all. And God Bless the USA."