Published: Mar 06, 2013 10:23 AM EST

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - It's been 46 years since Robert French was shot during a three-day battle in the Vietnam War.
    
On Tuesday, he was surprised with the awarding of a Bronze Star at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa.
    
French, a radio telephone operator for Charlie Company of the 47th Infantry Regiment of the 9th Infantry Division, says he was overwhelmed by the ceremony. He says the real heroes are the men "who never came back."
    
The Tampa Tribune (http://bit.ly/ZfuHhd ) reports platoon leader 1st Lt. Jack Benedick nominated French for the Bronze Star after the battle but the paperwork got lost. About a decade ago, he found out French never received the medal and tried again. He wasn't able to attend Tuesday's ceremony, but sent a message calling French "a true American."
    
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Information from: Tampa Bay Times (St. Petersburg, Fla.), http://www.tampabay.com.

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