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Vietnam Veteran awarded Purple Heart, 40+ years later

MINNESOTA CITY, Minn. (KTTC) -- More than 40 years after a local man was injured in Vietnam, he finally received a special medal.

It was in September of 1968 when Arlyn Olson was injured when rounds of ammunition in a pit, exploded.

But due to a mix-up, it wasn't until this past January he was awarded his Purple Heart.

For an American soldier, it's the highest honor.

"I spent four months in the hospital, then they're telling you, that you have nothing coming, it's hard," explained Olson.

At the age of 18, off at battle in a foreign land, Arlyn Olson was severely wounded.

"One of the rounds hit our pit and set of our rounds, so we had basically an explosion, burnt five of us," stated Olson.

While in the hospital Arlyn received a Purple Heart plaque, but upon discharge the award wasn't listed on any paperwork.

It wouldn't be until 2009, when Olson tried to join the Minnesota Order of the Purple Heart, he'd discover there were no records.

"They didn't even have me listed as being wounded in Vietnam," exclaimed Arlyn.

Arlyn's plaque wasn't enough proof to convince the Army Board of Correction Military Records of the mistake. He was out of luck, unless he could produce new information.

Finally, after trying alternate routes, he contacted Congressman Walz.

"Then in about 2 months, I got another letter. Then everything was approved," said Olson.

This past January a surprise came in the mail.

"Actually got the Purple Heart in a little manila envelope, it was torn and taped up with packing tape, that's how it came, full of dust," explained Olson.

Arlyn had waited for more than 40 years.

"Oh it was a relief. Then I turned it over and it had my name on the back of it. It meant a lot," recalled Olson.

American pride runs through Olson's blood.

He said if he had to go back and do it all over again in Vietnam, he'd do it in a heart beat.

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