A Coeur d'Alene man who participated in two combat tours in Southeast Asia with the 101st Airborne Division finally received awards for valor Thursday he earned more than 40 years ago in the jungles of Vietnam.
It was due to a paperwork mistake that former Army Sgt. Leon Strigotte had to wait 44 years to receive several medals he earned in Vietnam. The Idaho Army National Guard made sure to thank him for his service, with the state's Guard commander, Brig. Gen. John Goodale, on hand to present Strigotte his awards.
Guardsman and fellow combat veterans manned the hallways of the Idaho Army Guard armory in Post Falls Friday to welcome Strigotte, who served two tours in Vietnam between 1967 and 1969. During his service, he was wounded three times -- once during the Tet Offensive in March 1968 and in the Central Highlands in August and again in December of 1969.
During Tet, Strigotte was injured in a land mine explosion, was rehabilitated and then asked to go back. After his second wound in late 1969 he was sent home. He was later awarded three Purple Hearts for being wounded in combat, but the other medals he had earned were lost due to a clerical error.