Congressman Leonard Lance

Representing the 7th District of New Jersey

Lance Presents Service Medals to Stephen Thorpe

Oct 4, 2018
Press Release

WESTFIELD, NJ – Congressman Leonard Lance (NJ-07) held a special medal presentation ceremony in his Westfield District Office to honor Winfield Park resident and former Army Specialist Stephen E. Thorpe for his service to the Nation.  Lance presented Specialist Thorpe with medals earned during the Vietnam War.  These commendations were never previously awarded.  Lance presented Thorpe with the Army Commendation Medal, Vietnam Service Medal & Bronze Star, National Defense Service Medal, Expert Badge & Auto Rifle Bar and the Air Medal with “V” (for valor).

It is wonderful to join Specialist Thorpe and his family as he is awarded these medals earned in service to our great Nation during the Vietnam War.  I am proud of Specialist Thorpe for the many years he gave in service to our country and the acts of heroism described in the Army records.  It was fascinating to hear the stories of his bravery and that of his fellow soldiers.  It was my honor to present his medals to him on behalf of the Nation.  And it was great to visit with him and his wife, Denise, and his brother, Thomas,” said Lance.    

Thomas Thorpe was on-hand to support his brother after suggesting asking Lance’s office for help in recouping the medals.  “Like many of his era, Steve has not spoken much about his service in Vietnam.  Even as his brother, I did not learn of his bravery and heroism until many years later when I was able to coax it from him for our genealogy records.  I could not be more happy for, or more proud of, my brother and all the men and women who have served and are serving our country so selflessly.   And, if it’s true that ‘those also serve, who stand and wait’ his loving wife of 46 years, Denise, waited and worried for him while he was in the Army.  She also deserves recognition.  We are very proud of her too.”

In the U.S. Army and reserves from 1969 to 1975, Thorpe served as a SP4 helicopter mechanic and door gunner in Vietnam from 1969 to 1970.  Lance was particularly impressed by Army documents earning Specialist Thorpe the Air Medal with “V”.  The Army record recounted how Thorpe earned the award for “heroism while participating in aerial flight in the Republic of Vietnam on 12 August, 1970.  Specialist Thorpe distinguished himself while serving as crew chief aboard a UH-1H helicopter during an emergency extraction near Khe Sanh, Republic of Vietnam.  When an embattled reconnaissance team came in contact with a numerically superior enemy force and was in danger of being overrun, Specialist Thorpe guided his pilot into the contact area. While approaching the landing zone, Specialist Thorpe’s helicopter came under intense anti-aircraft fire from numerous enemy emplacements.  Subjecting himself to the hostile fire, he returned accurate and devastating fire on the enemy position. Once on the landing zone, he directed beleaguered ground elements aboard as quickly as possible. When the extraction was completed, he guided his pilot through the hail of enemy fire and continued to engage the enemy. Specialist Thorpe’s personal bravery and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.”

Specialist Thorpe now has all the medals he earned in service to the United States.

Lance’s constituents casework managers are able to assist veterans in receiving lost, stolen or never awarded military commendations.  If you or someone you know is need of assistance in obtaining earned service medals, please contact Lance’s Westfield District Office at 908-518-7733.