November 24, 2015

Lujan Presents Medals to Air Force Veteran Emerson T. Lee in Farmington



Rep. Luján pins medals on Sgt. Emerson T. Lee after the Congressman helped get the medals that Sgt. Lee earned through his service in the Air Force during the Vietnam War.

Farmington, NM – Congressman Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico’s Third District awarded a number of medals to Air Force veteran Emerson T. Lee this morning at a ceremony in Farmington.  They were joined by the Lee family, local veterans, including Jess Coleman of the Aztec Veterans of Foreign War, the Honor Guard from Upper Fruitland, and Beverly Charley from New Mexico Department of Veterans Services.

Emerson T. Lee of Kirtland served in the United States Air Force from 1969 to 1973 during the Vietnam War.  During his time in the service, he was stationed at Lowry Air Force Base in Denver Colorado, Tan Son Nhut in Saigon, and Edwards Air Force Base in Mohave, California.  Sgt. Lee was a Precision Measuring Equipment Specialist in a Maintenance Squadron, where he was trained to troubleshoot, repair, and calibrate electronic test equipment.

Rep. Luján honors the service of Sgt. Emerson T. Lee.  He was joined by an Honor Guard from Upper Fruitland and Belle Toney of Piedra Vista High School and a member of Junior ROTC.

Sgt. Lee was eligible for a number of awards due to his distinguished service; however, he did not receive them.  He contacted Rep. Luján’s office for help, and a week after the Congressman contacted the National Personnel Records Center, the shipment of Sgt. Lee’s awards was authorized.  Sgt. Lee was presented with the following medals at the ceremony:

•    Vietnam Service Medal
•    Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal
•    National Defense Service Medal
•    Air Force Good Conduct Medal

“It is an honor to help our veterans to ensure they receive the respect, recognition, and benefits they have earned through their brave service to our country,” Congressman Luján said.  “As a humble Navajo warrior, Sgt. Emerson T. Lee is part of a long and proud tradition of Navajo veterans who have served and sacrificed on behalf of a grateful nation.  I thank Sgt. Lee for his service.”

“I am grateful to Congressman Lujan for helping me in getting my medals of service while I was in the Air Force, even for my time in Vietnam,” said Sgt. Emerson T. Lee.  “I lost some of my friends in the war in Vietnam, and lost some after returning to the states later on – those friends are my heroes for paying the ultimate price.  I am glad to be of service for my country and my family.”

After leaving the service, Sgt. Lee earned a degree in Electronics Tech from New Mexico Highlands University and went on to have a 35-year career as an electrician with BHP Billton.

During the ceremony, Luján announced that he has nominated Ms. Belle T. Toney, a Navajo student attending Piedra Vista High School in Farmington, to the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York.  Ms. Toney was in attendance for the medal ceremony and wants to carry on the proud tradition of individuals like Sgt. Lee in service to her country.

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