CHELMSFORD, MASS. (WHDH) - Over 50 years after surviving a mine explosion during the Vietnam War, a U.S. Army veteran has finally been awarded a Purple Heart for his service.

In April 1969, Frederick Thumith survived a mine detonating as his vehicle passed through. Thumith said he suffered multiple injuries from the explosion, but survived and was later honorably discharged.

“I continue to suffer from the long-term effects of the blast – it is something that I have had to adapt to in everyday life,” Thumith said in a speech. “It’s been challenging.”

However, despite clear documentation, he never received a Purple Heart medal for his experience – an honor bestowed on those wounded or killed when serving in the military.

Following a campaign as well as advocacy from the offices of U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan, D-Mass., though, he finally received the medal with a special ceremony on Thursday.

“It was suggested that I go to the congresswoman’s office and I didn’t think – I’m a small person, and that wouldn’t happen,” he said in an interview. “They jumped in, both feet.”

“My response was simple – we will do everything in our power to get Fred the Purple Heart he’s owed,” Trahan said during the ceremony.

Joined by local leaders, as well as several National Guard engineer brigades, Thumith thanked those who supported him while recounting his journey.

“I am blessed and fortunate to come home alive,” he said. “My thanks to the entire veteran community, the Vietnam veterans and the Purple Heart veterans that have come to show their support today, elected officials and friends – and I mean that.”

Thumith also said there was no frustration or resentment for the past 53 years, noting that receiving the award had long been on his bucket list.

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