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Local News

July 5, 2013

Courage Under Fire: Tom Kinnick



Lord God, our power evermore,

Whose arm doth reach the ocean floor,

Dive with our men beneath the sea;

Traverse the depths protectively.

O hear us when we pray, and keep

Them safe from peril in the deep.

Bless those who serve beneath the deep,

Through lonely hours their vigil keep.

May peace their mission ever be,

Protect each one we ask of thee.

Bless those at home who wait and pray,

For their return by night or day.

On the USS Robert E. Lee, Kinnick said the men had short family grams from home and radio news to keep up with world events but they didn’t see the draft card burning, or war protests that spread through the national conscious. Brief, personal messages from families and friends of the crewmen which let them know how things at home were going were great for morale within the deep but it was shocking to be in the San Francisco airport coming home on leave and be called a baby killer, Kinnick said. The country was conflicted about the nation’s efforts but a presidential executive order awarded the Vietnam Service Medal to all who sacrificed for the cause within the armed forces. Sculpture Thomas Hudson Jones, who had worked at the Army’s Institute of Heraldry, helped design the award. The colors of the suspension drape and ribbon suggest the flag of the Republic of Vietnam with the red stripes representing the three ancient Vietnamese empires of Tonkin, Annam and Cochin China and the green trim at the edges symbolic of the Vietnamese jungle. Centered on the obverse of the medal is the figure of a half-concealed Asian dragon representing the subversive nature of the conflict. A grove of bamboo trees are an adaptation from the flag of the President of Vietnam representing a lawful, democratic state. Below this design is the inscription “Republic of Vietnam Service.” On the reverse of the medal is a cross-bow, an ancient weapon of Vietnam, surmounted by a lighted torch like the statue of liberty, symbolic of the United States and freedom. Along the outer edge are the words “United States of America” in raised letters. Through several missions, Kinnick earned the distinctive medal.

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