Vietnam War and Army veteran Andrew Kach shows the Bronze Star Medal just awarded to him to his son, Air Force Technical Sgt. Jeffrey Kach, right, and his commanding officer, retired Capt. Henry Parker, on Monday in Brighton Township, Mich. (Gillis Benedict/Daily Press & Argus)
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BRIGHTON TOWNSHIP, MICH. — U.S. Army Pfc. Andrew Kach proved his “Michigan toughness” when mortar fire knocked him out of a guard tower and, despite his wounds, he saved another soldier’s life, Kach’s Vietnam War captain said.
Kach, a Brighton Township resident, on Monday received the Bronze Star Medal with a “V” device for valor in a ceremony at the American Spirit Centre in Brighton Township.
Kach was serving guard duty at a tower on Landing Zone Sherry in Phan Thiet, Vietnam, on Aug. 28, 1969, when his unit came under heavy mortar attack.
Kach returned fire, causing the enemy to redirect the attack.
Though wounded, he took a second soldier injured in the explosion to a medic and returned to his post until sunrise.
Kach’s machine-gun fire is credited with ending of the mortar attack.
U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Howell, presented Kach with his medal.
“The men I served with, every one of them bears the scars of serving their country at LZ Sherry,” Kach said after receiving his medal.
“Most people run from danger. They ran to it,” he added.
Kach served with the B-Battery Fifth of the 27th Artillery.
He explained that his unit, nicknamed both “The Professionals” and “The Bulls,” was under constant enemy attack during the war.
About nine members of Kach’s unit traveled from all over the country to see their comrade recognized for his service.
“We didn’t bend to the resistance. The Bulls stood strong and did their job no matter what the cost. And there were many that paid the ultimate price for that stubbornness,” he said.
“This medal is more about them than me. The men that are standing here with me, this is your medal as well as mine,” Kach added.
He individually saluted each of the surviving members of the unit in attendance.
Rogers’ office worked on a service affidavit compiled by Capt. Henry Parker, Kach’s captain during the war.
Parker traveled from Idaho for Monday’s ceremony.
Parker said it took just over three years to confirm Kach’s medal through the U.S. Army. He said the military requires verified accounts of service, a challenge for a war fought more than four decades ago.
Parker said many of the 120-member unit were killed in combat. Kach was one of many Michigan members.
“We had a lot of guys from Michigan and they brought Michigan toughness and stubbornness, they were good, good guys,” he said after the ceremony.
“We cared for one another. Our job was tp put steel on the enemy, but take care of your guys,” Parker added.
Rik Groves, a member of Kach’s unit, said the recognition was long overdue. Groves said the country learned to better recognize soldiers’ sacrifices after the Vietnam War.
He noted the Vietnam War was unpopular with much of America.
“Everybody knows that. Vietnam veterans weren’t always welcomed home like others have been,” Groves said.
“This is not sour grapes for me,” however, he added.
Kach worked for the Detroit Free Press’ circulation department for 24 years and is currently a driver trainer for the state of Michigan.
Service runs in his family.
Kach’s son, U.S. Air Force Technical Sgt. Jeffrey Kach, has served eight tours of duty in the U.S. Air Force in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Rogers said it’s important to know soldiers earn medals rather than win them, and that each medal signifies a sacrifice.
“It means they gave up some time away from their family. It means they engaged in an act of bravery that we all hope that we would do that many of us won’t be asked to do because they stood in our place,” he said.