"I was in the army about 43 years ago" explains Tom Pienta. He was drafted to serve in Vietnam at the age of 22.
"I kind of expected it" he says. "What are you going to do. You're drafted you have to go".
The conditions were rough. "It is dusty and dirty and then when it rains its mud" says Pienta.
After more than year on the ground his life was forever changed.
"Alpha company was pinned down so we went in there to back them up. We just walked into an ambush. We couldn't see them. They were all camouflaged and dug into the ground" explains Pienta.
Seven members of his company were killed. Pienta was hit in the leg with shrapnel.
"I knew right away because it felt like somebody hit me with a baseball bat. My platoon Sergeant was laughing. I said I think I've been hit. He says what do you mean you think you've been hit? I couldn't feel pain I just felt numb" says Pienta.
That shrapnel is just as much a medal for Pienta as the Purple Heart it shares a box with.
His collection of awards grew in 2003 when Wisconsin named him disabled veteran of the year.
Despite the decorations, Pienta is humble.
"The only heroes I know are in the cemetery. I just went there to do my job" he says.
It's clear service runs in the Pienta's blood.
"My oldest son joined the Army and my daughter is in the Air Force in Germany right now" he says.
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