Community Stories Hometown Heroes

Huntsville Veteran Honored for Bravery in Vietnam

It took 45 years for Robert Monette to get the recognition he deserved.

Robert still remembers the day in 1972, when he was piloting a helicopter in Vietnam and saw a plane flying with its right wing on fire. When the plane broke in half and crashed into a marsh, he didn’t think it was possible anyone survived. Still, Robert, along with three other servicemen, flew in to check for survivors. They hovered above the wreckage, pulling five survivors rom the crash site.

Oh, and they did all of that while under fire, according to military.com.

At the time, the men were not rewarded for their bravery. It would be more than four decades before they each received a Silver Star, the third-highest medal awarded to servicemen and women.

“We were running on fumes,” Robert told Military.com. “We were critically low on fuel. But we weren’t going any place until we had the guys on board.”

Over time, the men split up and moved to separate states to start their own lives. After his two tours of combat in Vietnam, Robert moved to Huntsville and started his own company.

Then, in 2005, the men reunited with their commanding officer, Major Jack Shields. It was Major Shields who had the idea to nominate them for a medal. Over the next few years, he followed through with the tedious process of getting an award for the men. 

His hard work paid off. On April 18, the four men reunited in Little Rock, Arkansas, to get their medals.

This wasn’t the first time Robert thought about his time in Vietnam. In 2012, his wife encouraged him to join a military tour group that takes veterans back to the countries they fought for, according to the Redstone Rocket.

However, Vietnam wasn’t the same place he remembered from the war.

Robert told the Redstone Rocket the people were still the same hard workers he remembered, but now there were no feelings of hatred towards Americans.

The Silver Star will just add to Robert’s list of commendations. He already has two Distinguished Flying Crosses, two Bronze Stars, 57 Air Medals—including two for valor—three Meritorious Service Medals, three Vietnamese Crosses of Gallantry, a Broken Wing Award and the Army Aviation Association of America (AAAA) Order of St. Michael Silver Award, according to the Redstone Rocket.

The Community Journal would like to thank Robert, along with all of our other veterans, for their service to the country.

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About the author

Jessie Harbin

Jessie is a newlywed living in Meridianville with her husband and three dogs. She's learning to sail on their 26-foot sailboat in Guntersville. At the time of publication, nobody has fallen ill because of her cooking.

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