The ceremony recognizing Robert Clutts for honorable deeds came 50 years late, but it was better late than never.
Clutts, a combat medic in the Korean War, received a purple heart Oct. 25 for a bullet wound incurred Dec. 12, 1950, during combat in the Korean War.
The award is given to those wounded during combat.
He was shot in the right leg that day, when hopes of victory vanished as Chinese Communist troops joined the fight, supporting the North Koreans.
Though he was wounded, his leg was saved and he was sent home to his family in Anchor Point, without a concern about the recognition.
"At the time I didn't look at it as any big deal, it was a way of life," he said.
Clutts did receive campaign ribbons, a Korea service medal and a combat badge, but his collection lacked an important, well-deserved item.
Clutts, who has owned the Anchor River Inn in Anchor Point for the past 38 years, has contributed to his community by serving on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Planning Commission and the board of directors for the South Peninsula Hospital in Homer.
Since retiring, he and his wife of 16 years, Simonne, have traveled by recreational vehicle across the United States, returning to Alaska for six months a year.
For the past two years, the couple has traveled to Alabama to a reunion of the medics with whom Clutts served.
"We are all old, fat and bald-headed now, but we were 20-year-old kids then," he said.
It was at one of the reunions that Clutts was shown the orders for his purple heart by a colonel, but again he did not pursue getting the award.
It was his family that was concerned about that void.
"We have always been real proud of him for his service to his community and his nation," Jesse Clutts said of his father.
He said it didn't seem right for his father not to have been recognized.
So Clutts' former daughter-in-law, Amy, and her husband, SFC Steven Edwards, asked and received the help they needed from Fort Polk in Louisiana.
The family kept the award a secret for seven months. Simonne said the ceremony was inspirational for her husband.
"It was a total surprise to him," she said.
Clutts said this was not the first time the family kept something a secret from him.
"They are real good at that," he said.
Simonne said her husband never seemed to be bothered about not getting the purple heart after so many years.
"He is very loyal (to his country). That meant more to him than to receive recognition," she said.
Clutts was presented his purple heart medal in October, almost 50 years after being wounded in the fields of war-torn Korea.
"It was quite emotional," Clutts said referring to the ceremony.
He said he keeps his purple heart at his home in Alaska.
Clutts said he hopes more men and women are recognized for their deeds in peace and in wartime.
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