Forty-three years after he earned three Bronze Stars, a second Purple Heart and a handful of other medals for his service in Vietnam, Terry "Dutch" Herzog finally received those emblems of valor last week.
They arrived on Tuesday at his and wife Lana's Rooney Drive home in Henderson, and while Terry is glad to have them, he probably won't ever mention them to anyone unless specifically asked.
As my mama always said, "Still water runs deep."
Terry, who has shrapnel in his head and right arm; ill effects from exposure to the toxic Agent Orange in Vietnam and — as of five years ago — a diagnosis of Parkinson's Disease, does not see himself as being worthy of admiration.
His medal-earning deeds as a Green Beret in the U.S. Army Special Forces was, he said, "just part of my job."
Rescuing a comrade who had a grievous wound when Terry himself was already badly hurt was something that didn't require lengthy deliberation. "Your adrenaline is flowing," he said. "Nobody knows what they'll do until something happens."
Asked about other instances that earned Bronze
Stars, he shrugs and says it was "just stuff."
He doesn't want to wear the word "hero," but some of his Henderson City High Class of 1965 classmates and good friends believe that word more than fits the man with the glasses and gray mustache.
One of those pals, Bill Alward, told me, "Terry was a young man who went to war because his country asked him to. He did his duty, and he doesn't talk about his deeds. I'm tickled to death he's gotten these medals. He's a friend and a hero."
Recently, Bill and another nearly life-long friend, Steve Tweddell, and Terry's two sons, Chris and Adam, had a special dinner for Terry at Rookie's restaurant to celebrate word that the medals were on their way after nearly half a century.
Terry was adamant they not draw attention to themselves by having a bit of a ceremony. "There were too many other people around," he says. He'd have turned beacon red in that situation.
Why were the medals, including a silver symbol for his machine gun skills, so long in coming?
Terry figures the paperwork got "lost in the shuffle" in 1969, after he'd already been awarded his first Purple Heart in the field.
He didn't make any fuss about it and it wasn't until last year, when he was talking to a staff member at the Veterans' Center in Evansville, that the ball to correct that oversight started rolling. The staff member, Tony Schmidt, began making inquiries and the upshot was that the Army Board for Correction of Military Records investigated and last month approved the medals for former Sgt. Charles T. Herzog, a Henderson native who had volunteered his service at age 19.
He was 21 when he went to Vietnam as an intelligence analyst who tracked movements of the enemy.
Terry had barely set foot on Vietnam soil when he was fired at by a sniper, and there were other close calls, including barely avoiding falling into a pit that held sharpened bamboo.
His wounds were inflicted by an exploding grenade on Feb. 2, 1969, and he and the fellow soldier he had pulled from harm's way were airlifted by helicopter to two different hospitals. Terry was taken to DaNang, and the other man to Tokyo. Terry, who was returned to action after only a week, never learned if the other man survived.
"I'll tell you who the real heroes are," he said. "It's the chopper pilots who flew in at midnight. We had 10 seconds to get on board" for the medical flights. "I don't know how they ever found us."
Terry came home on June 6, 1969, after a year in Vietnam, but he didn't come home alone.
He brought all-too-realistic nightmares of the horrors he had seen, and those dreams were so vivid he broke several ribs diving out of bed.
The ghosts of happenings in the war haunted him, but gradually were mostly laid to rest. He was luckier than many, he said. "I know guys (suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) who have been married six or seven times and have other problems."
His first marriage ended, but he and his ex-wife Phyllis Becker are friends and parents to Chris.
He and Lana have been married 40 years, and are parents to Adam. Lana is executive assistant to the administrator of St. Mary's Medical Center in Evansville.
After his return home, Terry — who would have loved to become a lawyer — eventually was a city policeman and then worked in sales for the Evansville-based Farm Boy Food Services 20 years. His final five working years were with the inmate Community Service Program of the Henderson County Detention Center.
If you know his family, you know that over the years there have been numerous "Dutch" nicknames among the men. In fact, Terry is known as "Little Dutch" and his older brother Kenneth is "Big Dutch."
Their late father, Charles "Dutch" Herzog was with the Henderson Fire Department for many years, and his late mom, Doris Herzog, was employed by the Henderson Police Department. Terry also had a sister, Betty Herzog Jung, who is deceased.
Terry said it once was explained to him that when his great-grandparents came over from Germany, they settled in Henderson's east end and were referred to as "Those Dutchmen." The designation stuck.
Former Green Beret Sgt. Herzog regrets that the long-lasting conflict in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos didn't result in an allied victory, but it has pained him when some have claimed that it wasn't really a war.
When 58,200 U.S. military died, more than 300,000 were wounded, and 1,687 missing in action, Terry maintains, "It was some sort of war."