BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — A Vietnam veteran is being awarded the Purple Heart for his service. It’s an award he’s been waiting 55 years to get, and it finally happened Friday.

U.S. Marine Corps and Vietnam veteran Stephen Peagler received a host of medals and honors Friday for his service including the purple heart. This recognition is something he’s been waiting decades for.

Peagler was wounded in combat in 1968 and later returned home to Alabama with severe injuries.

Fifty-five years passed before he learned of the nine medals and honors he was awarded. Since learning of the news, he’s been working to get those medals. He finally received them.

Peagler said he’s thankful for the recognition, and he’s thrilled it came while his mother was still alive to see it.

“My mom was there every step of the way,” Peagler said. “And I was glad this happened while she was still here. I want people to know I’m a proud veteran.”

In addition to the Purple Heart, Peagler received a number of awards:

  • Combat Action Ribbon
  • Navy Unit Commendation
  • Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal
  • National Defense Service Medal
  • Vietnam Service Medal
  • Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation
  • Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal
  • Rifle Marksman Badge

The 75-year-old enlisted when he was 19 years old. He said the recognition is well worth the wait.