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Vietnam veteran inspires daughter’s service

U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Darron Salzer Army Maj. Trenia Coleman stands next to her father, Jessie Hill, a Vietnam veteran, during a ceremony at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial in Arlington, Va., on Nov. 5. Coleman was promoted to major during the ceremony, and her father was formally awarded the Purple Heart he earned in 1966 in Vietnam.

ARLINGTON, Va., — During her recent promotion ceremony, a National Guard member said her Vietnam veteran father was the inspiration for her service.

“I come from a family of military men, so I chose to follow in my father’s footsteps,” said Army Maj. Trenia Coleman, who is from Louisiana.

Coleman’s father, Jessie Hill, received a Purple Heart during the ceremony at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial here.

With friends and family in attendance, Coleman, who is the appeals and analysis section chief for the National Guard Bureau’s human resources office, was promoted to her present rank. She said that it meant the world to her to have her father attend the ceremony.

“I am very proud of my father,” she said.

Hill’s family said he served from 1964 to 1966 with the 25th Infantry Division’s 502nd Aviation Battalion and was wounded in Vietnam on Feb. 27, 1966.

Hill, a private first class, served as a door gunner. After being wounded, he was sent back home to Hawaii, where he awaited a medical discharge from the Army. After his discharge, the Purple Heart was mailed to Hill, but it never was properly presented, and it did not show up on his discharge papers.

“We worked on getting the award added to his (discharge papers) and presented to him, and we thought that combining the two occasions would be really special,” Coleman said.

Hill said he was drafted into the Army in 1964.

“When my daughter decided that she was going to enlist, I was a little nervous, because I didn’t want her to go through the same things that I did,” he said. “After a while though, I felt all right about it.”

As he watched his daughter become a major, the emotion was evident on Hill’s face.

“I am very proud of my daughter today, and I’m glad that she has made it as far as she has,” he said. “I never dreamed that she would have come this far.”