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AFIT Alumnus Receives Bronze Star
Posted: 08/24/2006 by AFIT Public Affairs

Retired Army Col. Phillip Weinert waited 37 years to receive the Bronze Star that had been awarded for his service with the Army Corps of Engineers in Vietnam.

When the medal finally came through, he decided to have the ceremony in what might seem like an unusual setting — a Navy hospital — with a retired Air Force general as the guest speaker.

"It just seemed like the right thing to do," said Weinert, who’s now a Red Cross volunteer at Naval Hospital Bremerton.

Now in his early seventies, Weinert received a Bronze Star, the military’s fourth-highest honor, Wednesday from Navy Capt. Catherine Wilson, the hospital’s commanding officer.

He thanked Wilson for "allowing an Army interloper to sneak in" and the hospital’s staff for the treatment he has received there in the past year.

As a major in the Corps of Engineers, Weinert distinguished himself during ground operations in Vietnam between March 1968 and July 1969, according to his award citation.

"He had a shovel in one hand and a rifle in the other," said Capt. Randall Kelley, Naval Hospital Bremerton’s executive officer.

Weinert’s friend and guest speaker, retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Bill Anders, said Weinert is a patriot who "earned probably four or five Bronze Stars in his career."

"He’s risked his life, risked his reputation a few times, but always worked out for the good of the country," Anders said.

Anders is a former astronaut who became one of the first humans to orbit the moon as the lunar module pilot for the legendary Apollo 8 mission.

He and Weinert met in 1960 while they were studying nuclear engineering at the Air Force Institute of Technology.

"That was tougher than going to the moon and probably Vietnam," Anders joked.

He said he was pleased Weinert finally was recognized by the Army after paperwork for his award "got lost in the shuffle" for many years.

"When I heard he was getting it, I said I’d be there," Anders said.

In addition to Anders, who flew himself from the San Juan Islands for Wednesday’s ceremony, Weinert’s wife, son, daughter-in-law and two grandsons were in attendance.

His son, Alex, of Seattle, said being there was important "for my kids to understand the history of the family and service to the country."

By Elaine Helm,
24, 2006

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