45 years later, Vietnam War vet gets Purple Heart and a hero’s welcome

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Earlier this month, a Utah man was awarded a Purple Heart because he was wounded in the Vietnam War.

Karl Potter of Duchesne was also one of nine Purple Heart recipients  from around the nation who won a two-week trip to the once war-ravaged country. Like many other Vietnam War veterans, Potter was never given the hero's welcome his family says he deserved.

But Trenna Cigarroa, Potter's daughter, wanted to use the opportunity of seeing her father return from his recent trip to Vietnam as a chance to make it right.

"I believe it's well overdue.  All Vietnam veterans, all veterans of any kind of war should be welcomed home for their service, even if you don`t support the war," Cigarroa said.

Proud friends, family members and military officials came to the Salt Lake City International Airport to support Potter. Potter was hesitant to make the trip, but now says it was therapeutic for him.

"It's kind of a healing process I guess, in a way.  But, I don`t think I'd have gone back if it hadn't been for the other soldiers with me.  I probably wouldn't have done it on my own.  I just wouldn't want to do it that way," Potter said.

In spite of being shunned and unappreciated for his participation in the Vietnam War, Potter says his love for his country and his compassion for his fellow soldiers remains strong.

"It's the best country in the world. I hope everybody that was with me on the trip gets the same treatment that I've got today.  I feel humbled and I appreciate it," Potter said.