WTOV9 - WELLSVILLE, Ohio — "It hurt because those are the battles I was in with my friends and I didn't turn my back. And they didn't turn their backs either."
Fighting back tears, a hero pleaded for the return of his war medals.
Joe Brown was drafted when he was 19 years old. He spent more than a year serving his country in Vietnam, but all his stories of heroism couldn't prepare him for the crime committed just days ago.
They are empty certificates, memories of what Joe Brown earned. His symbols of service were taken from him in a break-in on December 29th.
"Well I looked around and most everything is here, even things I thought they would take but I can't believe they took my medals because they're not really worth much," Brown said.
War medals including a Purple Heart, a Silver Star, air medals, Arcom medals and more were all ripped from a frame, taken from the 68-year-old man who bled for them.
"I went out and saved my friend. Carrying him back they shot me in the shoulder, so my shoulder is shot up because of it, but it was worth it because my friend lived," Brown said.
Brown saw the horrors of the Vietnam War and felt the sting of a country divided. Now, he's devastated.
"Those medals represent soldiers that stuck together and we didn't run. We stood toe to toe," he said. "I just want people to understand, that's not just a piece of metal. That's part of my life and what I did for my friends and what they done for me because they didn't run either."
Brown says this tragedy has helped him learned that there are others out there who are victims and even though they may not share their stories, they too need the public's help.
"I want other people to know that others had their medals stolen. I hope if anyone knows they will help them get their medals back because they don't understand how important it is," he said.
Brown says he doesn't wish ill on those who stole his medals. He just wants them back. That's why he's asking anyone with information to come forward.
The Wellsville Police Department is investigating this theft.
Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved