Local News

Erwin veteran honored with postage stamp

Posted May 25, 2015 10:41 p.m. EDT

— Postage stamps depicting dozens of Medal of Honor recipients from the Vietnam War were unveiled Monday, including one stamp depicting Army veteran Gordon Roberts of Erwin.

The U.S. Postal Service dedicated Limited Edition Medal of Honor: Vietnam War Forever stamps in a ceremony at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on National Mall in Washington, D.C. The special stamp sheet features 48 of the more than 50 living Medal of Honor winners – most of the 258 recipients were awarded posthumously – who served in that war.

Roberts, who opted to attend Memorial Day ceremonies in Fayetteville, called the honor "a bit surreal" but said it was appropriate that the stamps should be dedicated on Memorial Day.

"The one thing that I've come to realize is that there are people around this country who truly appreciate what every veteran has done," he said.

A member of the 506th Infantry, 101st Airborne Division, Roberts was 19 when he single-handedly took out four enemy bunkers in July 1969 that had pinned down an adjoining unit while his comrades were under heavy fire from a nearby hilltop.

Two years later, President Richard Nixon hung the Medal of Honor around his neck.

"You don't think of yourself as someone who would be receiving an award like that," he said.

Roberts said he had to make peace with the possibility of dying during the conflict.

"It's what is necessary at times," he said. "Freedom isn't free, and a price does have to be paid, and there has to be those folks who are willing to step forward and do whatever is necessary."

Although the stamps depict the living, he said people must understand that the honor is just as much about those who died. More than 58,000 U.S. troops were killed during the Vietnam War.

"The amount of pain that you go through when you lose someone as close as a brother or more, it just defies description," he said.