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Vietnam veteran from Eau Claire presented Purple Heart 49 years after service

Eau Claire (WQOW) – An Eau Claire veteran finally got proper recognition for his service overseas on Thursday.

Maloy “Ole” Monicken returned from the Vietnam War in 1970. He was injured when a Jeep he was riding in drove over an undetected mine.

Now, nearly 50 years later, a special presentation was held to present him with a Purple Heart and Good Conduct Medal for his service.

“It’s quite an honor,” said Monicken with a laugh. “I think it’s an honor for me. It’s a huge relief. It’s been something I’ve been trying to do since I got out of the Army.”

In 1971, Monicken received the Purple Heart and Good Conduct Medals unceremoniously in the mail after returning home from the Vietnam War. No formal presentation, no certification. Until now.

“I have some friends that the same thing happened to them, but the Purple Heart was given to their family after they passed on. I just wanted to get this all done properly,” Monicken said.

That’s where his daughters Jessica and Katie came in. After many failed attempts by Monicken to get the certification, they contacted Sen. Tammy Baldwin, who not only got him the medals and certification, but a ceremony as well.

“We are so grateful to our father for his service in the Vietnam War, and we are grateful that he finally got the recognition and thanks that he deserves,” said Katie Kuznacic, Monicken’s daughter.

Growing up, the sisters didn’t know about their dad’s service in Vietnam. They say at the time there was still a lot of controversial feelings about the war, leading soldiers like Monicken to seldom speak about their experiences.

“It’s hard also when you grow up as an adult then to see how he didn’t want to talk about it, or felt ashamed from the way he was treated when he came back,” said Jessica Hanson, Monicken’s other daughter.

Now everyone can see their dad the same way his family and friends see him: as a hero.

“It’s too long,” said Monicken. “But I’m glad for this day today.”

The Eau Claire VFW also assisted in making the ceremony a reality for Monicken.

Mary Pautsch

Mary came to News 18 in July 2019 from Sioux City, Iowa where she graduated from Morningside College with a BA in Spanish after attending Iowa State University for 3 years.

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