SAN DIEGO - After nearly five decades, a Camp Pendleton Marine and Vietnam veteran will soon receive a medal of valor.
Months after joining the Marines at the age of 18, Roger Kimble left Camp Pendleton for Vietnam.
In May 1966, he was on patrol as part of a convoy in the northern part of south Vietnam when a roadside bomb blew up near his truck, rupturing the fuel line and tossing him 30 feet.
"I remember opening my eyes and seeing a big red-orange ball of flame," said Kimble.
When Kimble came to, he said he saw the platoon sergeant on fire head to toe.
He and another Marine quickly tackled the sergeant, wrapped him in rain gear and put out the flames.
With ammunition going off from the explosion, Kimble would pull three others away from the burning vehicle.
He was running on adrenaline and didn't realize he had shrapnel in his knee and burns on his arms and face.
"I just thought if I don't get those guys out of there, they could get killed or hurt even worse. My training kicked in and I did exactly what I was trained to do," said Kimble.
For his actions, Kimble was awarded a Purple Heart.
More than four decades later, at a battalion reunion in San Diego in 2009, his former commanding officer, Humberto Gonzalez, asked him about the Bronze Star he had put him up for.
"What Bronze Star?" Kimble answered.
Gonzalez said something must have slipped through the cracks and spent the next year gathering statements for a resubmission.
Several years later, Kimble got a call from the Secretary of the Navy that he would receive the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation medal, which is just below the Bronze Star.
"To me, this is just a great honor," said Kimble.
He said it's an honor because he gets to represent those who never came back from the war.
"Those young people who never had a chance to have a life or family ... I wear this medal in their honor," said Kimble.
Kimble, who lives in Indiana, will receive the medal in a ceremony on July 13.
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