More than four decades after being recommended for a Silver Star Medal, a Knoxville Vietnam veteran was finally awarded for his bravery as he fights a new fight.
Retired Lt. Col. Eric Oglesby flew a helicopter for the Army in Vietnam. He flew Dustoff missions, evacuating critically wounded American soldiers, while under enemy fire. He was shot down twice. Oglesby’s wife Lisa said she found out from a 1971 newspaper clipping that was the reason her husband was recommended for the medal, though, she said he never got it.
“He said something about, “Oh I was supposed to get the Silver Star, somebody said they were [sending it] but it never came.” So he kind of brushed it off,” she said. “But once he became ill and I was organizing all of the paperwork and stuff and then I started to find the actual citations.”
That’s what kicked off a two year project of trying to get her husband’s medal.
“When you see that written in black and white, you know the things that are associated with those battles,” she said. “It really gets your attention.”
Eric Oglesby is living with dementia and to his wife, that fight takes just as much bravery as his heroic actions in the war.
“I’m just proud for him you know?” she said. “That was a lot of heroic action, but this is even more so. Battling dementia takes a lot of tremendous courage and it’s a challenge every day for him. He knows it and he’s done it with so much valor, so much courage to try to minimize how it’s going to impact everybody else. That’s the Silver Star right?”
The Silver Star Medal is the third highest military decoration for valor. Oglesby was also previously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Bronze Star Medal.
Lisa Oglesby said Sen. Bob Corker’s office was instrumental in making sure her husband finally got his medal.