U.S. Army Capt. George M. "Sonny" Gratzer left Vietnam in the midst of a
from the ground after he
was seriously wounded.
Now, more than three decades later, the Butte native and University of Montana
graduate is being honored with a second Silver Star and first oak leaf cluster.
distinguished himself during six February days in Vietnam while he
Heavily decorated for his
service in Vietnam, Gratzer
initially received a single
Silver Star, as well as the Bronze Star (first oak leaf cluster) and the Purple Heart
(second oak leaf cluster.)
"While in command of a mechanized infantry company with an attached tank
platoon ... (Gratzer) skillfully and courageously exposed himself to extreme
enemy fire while directing return fire using his
tanks, machine guns and supporting
artillery," reads a presidential citation.
actions contributed immeasurably to the battalion's success and helped save
the lives of his
men," continues the citation.
was attached to Team Bravo
, an infantry company in the south jungles of
Vietnam, chasing the Headquarters Company
of the 7th North Vietnamese Army
The soldier's job was to keep the landing zone open during the day and chase the
enemy at night.
"We killed quite a few people coming in and we had to firefight all the time," he
said. "It was a long and arduous deal."
On Feb. 9, after several members of his
unit were wounded or killed, Gratzer
was shot in the left side, with the bullet cutting six nerve roots before exiting his
had received a Distinguished Service Cross and several Silver
told him he
had a single Star, and after Gratzer's inquiry to the
Military Awards Division was ignored, the commander put into motion the
congressional paperwork to see that Gratzer
was finally recognized.
Three other surviving members of his
unit wrote support letters.
There is other Silver Star paperwork he's
seen that is dated earlier than this
recognition, so there could even be a third Silver Star pending, said Gratzer
"I appreciate it," he