Congressman French Hill presented a local Army veteran with two replacement medals on Purple Heart Day during the Conway Lions Club meeting.
Joseph Gilliam of Greenbrier was accompanied by his wife of 49 years, Jane, as he received a Purple Heart Medal and a Bronze Star Medal.
“Toady we are presenting this brave man, Joseph Ray Gilliam, with two awards that he earned while in the service of this country in the Republic of Vietnam from May 1968 to May 1969," Hill said. "Joe, all of us are bursting at the seams with pride for your leadership, your example to your beautiful family, and the love you have for your sweet Jane.”
The congressman teased the veteran that everyone in the room was envious that all these years later, Gilliam could still fit in his service uniform.
Jane garnered a big laugh from the crowd when she jokingly told Hill she "should get a medal" after being married to Gilliam for nearly five decades.
"We'll talk about that later," Hill laughed.
Gilliam said getting the replacement medals meant the world to him.
"All I can say is thank you," he said. "Thank you so much."
Gilliam served with the 25th Infantry Division, Hill said.
“He served as an armored track commander and as the second section sergeant," he said, noting Gilliam earned the Bronze Star for meritorious service in Vietnam and the Purple Heart Medal "for injuries received while in an armored personnel carrier that struck an IED while on patrol in Vietnam."
In addition to these two awards, Gilliam earned a National Defense Service Ribbon, the Vietnam Service Medal, Combat Infantry Badge, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Ribbon, Expert Rifle Badge and Automatic Rifle Marksman Badge.
“Thank you for your service to this country," Hill said.