116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CENTRAL CITY — A Vietnam War veteran from Coggon received long-overdue recognition for his service when he was presented with several military medals in a surprise ceremony Saturday at the American Legion in Central City.
Sgt. Thomas Klug served with the U.S. Army in Vietnam from 1967 to 1969. For his service, he should have received several medals but never did amid the ongoing chaos of the war.
He pursued it at times over the years by contacting legislators, but nothing ever came of it. That changed when members of his family and Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Iowa, got involved.
The family members, including oldest daughter Elisabeth Kissling, surprised Klug with the Saturday morning ceremony. Extended family members, other veterans and Hinson also were in attendance.
“I really appreciate it and the Central City American Legion,” Klug said.
Kissling credited Hinson’s office for helping to bring it all together.
“Ashley Hinson’s office found that he still hasn’t got this medal, and they did a lot of back work to make this happen,” Kissling said. “I’ve heard that they had to do a lot of digging in a warehouse for the medals because it's not something they are really giving out anymore.”
At the ceremony, Hinson presented Klug with the military medals in a walnut box.
She noted that the National Personnel Records Center is behind on processing missing veteran medals. The pandemic also slowed requests nationally for older veterans seeking federal services.
“I think it is really important that the people who served our country get the recognition that they deserve, and many from the Vietnam era did not get that recognition when they came home,” Hinson said.
Klug said it was difficult for him to talk about his military service with his three daughters when they were growing up. Before the ceremony, Kissling said she asked her dad some questions about his time in the war to help prepare a statement.
“When he returned from Vietnam he did not get the warmest reception,” Kissling said. “As his daughter, he’s told me some stories that he felt like people weren’t happy with the war or respecting the military, so it is so nice to see him being honored.”
Fellow Vietnam veteran Mark Wendt, of Cedar Rapids, was glad to see his friend being honored as well. Wendt didn’t serve in Vietnam at the same time as Klug, but has known him since they met through the Christian Motorcycle Association 18 years ago.
“I am really happy today that he is getting recognition, that due to the fog of war, he didn't get when he should have,“ Wendt said. “It's being corrected today.”
Klug said he plans to display his medals — the National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal and Bronze Star Attachment, Republic of Vietnam Ribbon, and a Sharp Shooter Badge and Rifle Bar Attachment — in his living room.
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