Kenneth R. Shears was inducted into the Ohio Military Hall of Fame for his bravery during the Vietnam War.
The Delaware resident received a Bronze Star Medal with the “V” Device for Valor. This was awarded for heroism in connection with ground operations against a hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam.
He was one of 10 recipients of that award at the ceremony. Shears took part in the 18th annual induction ceremony at the State House Atrium on Friday, May 5.
Entering military service Shears admitted he was a bit frightened.
“I was 19 years old and leaving home was hard to deal with, but I was never really scared once I got over there,” Shears said.
According to military records, “Private First Class Shears distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions on June 7, 1970, while serving as a medic with Company B, 21st Infantry.”
On that date, the company was conducting routine combat operations east of Hiep Duc when it came under an intense barrage of enemy automatic weapons fire. In the initial burst of hostile rounds, several soldiers were wounded and required medical attention.
“We were getting hit by small arms fire and four or five guys got injured. I could hear the rifle fire as I was working on the injured men,” Shears recalled.
Shears left the relative security of his position and rushed 200 meters across open terrain to reach his comrades. Ignoring the danger involved, he administered first aid under the most adverse conditions.
Although still exposed to the enemy fusillade, Shears directed the withdrawal of the wounded personnel and carried one of the wounded soldiers to the landing zone himself.
“I weighed 135 pounds at the time and the injured man weighed about 175, but I just carried him to safety,” he said.
As medical evacuation helicopters arrived on station, enemy mortars began impacting near them. Despite the vulnerability of his position, he continued to assist the injured men until they were extracted from the area.
“I just did the best I could. I wasn’t even thinking about what was going on around me,” Shears said. “My time in Vietnam I felt like I made a difference. I was able to help save lives. I felt like I was there to save lives, not take them.”
Shears’ personal heroism, professional competence and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, the Americal Division and the United States Army, according to military information.
Shears served from 1969-1971.
After his military service he returned to his hometown of Marietta, Ohio, and began working for a shoe company. Later he transferred from a job in Kentucky to Delaware to work as a district sales manager.
He was also awarded a Purple Heart, along with the South Vietnam Medal of Valor. Shears resides in Delaware and is a life member and a director of Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 1095.
He and his wife, Pamela, have four children and 12 grandchildren.
Today he enjoys doing volunteer work, assisting with the military honor guard and fishing.
“I like fishing for catfish. They put up a good fight,” he said.
Editor Anthony Conchel can be reached at 740-413-0900.