Senator to present Purple Heart to Jerry Blackburn Saturday in Idaho Falls
Idaho Falls - A 45-year wait for an Idaho veteran to be recognized for his bravery and service to country will come to an end Saturday as he receives the Purple Heart from Idaho Senator Mike Crapo. Jerry Blackburn, of Leadore, served with the U.S. Army for two years during the Vietnam conflict. He was wounded while defending an officer's quarters in Saigon.
Specialist Blackburn served from 1966 to 1968. During the "Tet Offensive," specifically the Battle of BOQ 3, Blackburn distinguished himself by volunteering to accompany the Unit Alert Force, which had been dispatched to a Bachelor Officer's Quarters to provide rear security. The truck carrying the Alert Force was hit by enemy explosives and automatic weapons fire. Specialist Blackburn dismounted his vehicle and engaged the enemy. He continued to engage the enemy for several hours until he was wounded and forced to withdraw. His acts of courage in this effort crushed the enemy's western assault on a major military headquarters in Saigon.
Crapo, who has sought to speed up the response for veterans seeking health care and other services through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, calls the Purple Heart ceremony bittersweet. "Mr. Blackburn did not hesitate to defend his fellow soldiers and engage the military immediately during one of the deadliest battles of the Vietnam War. It is unfortunate that it has taken so long for him to receive this long-overdue recognition and I am honored to be able to participate in presenting him with the Purple Heart Award for wounds received in action."
Family members, local military representatives and media are invited to attend.
Purple Heart Presentation to Jerry Blackburn:
Saturday, August 24:
Idaho Falls 5:45 PM Vietnam War Memorial, Freeman Park, off Riverside Drive