WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- It's a military honor four decades overdue. Lost in paper work for years, a Leland man discovered accidentally he was awarded one of the army's top honors, which he finally received today.
Clint Cuthriell served in the Army's 1st Aviation Brigade, in the 60th Assault Helicopter Company. He fought in Vietnam for a year and had 1,062 combat hours and countless memories.
"Some of those are poignant, and some of them are a little bit hard to think about," Cuthriell said.
A year ago Cuthriell went to a reunion with some of the men he served with. They suggested he request his health and flight records from the Army.
"They sent me back a package that included a letter listing all the awards I had received, including the Bronze Star," he said.
At first he thought it was an error but, soon he realized it was not.
"They were dated about a week before I left 'Nam, and they never caught up to me," Cuthriell said.
The award finally caught up to him Tuesday. Rep. Mike McIntyre presented Cuthriell the Bronze Star as family, clients and co-workers looked on.
"Clint again, he kind of downplays this," coworker Frank Voli said. "'It's not that big of deal. It's not that big of deal,' but it is."
The hero's proud family tried not to tear up and could not help but wonder how the delay affected their lives.
"If he would have known more about it, he could have had a whole other military career, and who knows what could have happened today," Cuthriell's son Ryan said.
What did happen is that Cuthriell's family got to share in this special day.
"It's been a real honor," he said. "I am just so excited my grandchildren could be here, too."
Cuthriell can only guess why the army awarded him the Bronze Star, but he says he thinks his age was a factor. He was 19 years old when he served as an aircraft commander.