by Martin Moylan, Minnesota Public Radio
ST. PAUL, Minn. — A local Vietnam veteran who recently died is finally being awarded the Purple Heart he earned 45 years ago.
The veteran, Stephen Dufeck, died of cancer in December. U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., helped secure the medal for him and will present it to family members in a ceremony at the Minnesota Vietnam Veterans Memorial at 2:30 p.m. Sunday.
Dufeck was wounded in Vietnam during a rocket and mortar attack. His brother, Jerry Dufeck, said he never received the Purple Heart.
"It's one way of honoring his service and letting people know what he and others did over there," Jerry Dufeck said. "It's one of those wars where a lot of people came home and people didn't know just how to treat them. They were kind of forgotten in many ways."
A year ago, Stephen Dufeck decided to seek the medal, encouraged by family members. His three sons will accept the Purple Heart.
Klobuchar said: "He's finally getting the honor due to him. He was injured when he was serving in battle ... He was treated at a field hospital, shrapnel through his body. And then he came back to Minnesota, and he never really asked to be honored."
To receive the Purple Heart, a soldier must be injured in enemy action and receive documented treatment from a medical officer.