Framed for my service in the Vietnam War

I got framed.

And the person who framed me was none other than my son, Nicholas.

He framed all my medals from my enlistment in the US Army more than 50 years ago including my service in the Vietnam War.

I had a shadow box displaying the medals in the foyer of my home. It was small and contained no photographs. My son, who works part-time at Coll’s Custom Framing & Gallery in Conshohocken, PA, suggested that he enlarge the box and include a picture of me in the war zone.

It took him eight hours to complete the project having to cut and trim a unique piece of wood that is black in color and looks a lot like steel. It has nails in the back and screws in the front. In addition, Nick spent more than an hour inserting a particular type of glass called “conservation glass.” It prevents UV damage to items inside the frame itself.

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I am particularly proud of the Bronze Star ribbon and medal in the upper left-hand corner of the display. In addition, there is the medal for meritorious service while on a helicopter depicted in the bottom right-hand corner. (The Air Medal shows an eagle with lightning bolts in its talons!)

You will see two of my other favorite medals which include the CIB (Combat Infantry Badge) that has a wreath around an old rifle, and the medal with “Airborne wings” for those of us who trained and served as paratroopers.

The first time I grew a mustache was in Vietnam. My goatee came later!

What surprised me more than anything else was the photograph he dug up and inserted into the center of the display. I am wearing no shirt, but am smiling with my Boonie hat firmly in place as I take a knee somewhere in the jungle more than 100 “klicks” or kilometers away from the city of Saigon.

I was 21 years old and in charge of a platoon of some 25 soldiers, or “grunts” as we liked to be called. So glad to have made it home in one piece.

17 comments on “Framed for my service in the Vietnam War

  1. Nancy M says:

    What a tribute from a proud son to his amazing father. Thank you for your service!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I didn’t realize you were also a paratrooper! I went skydiving for fun once and thought – THIS IS CRAZY! I can’t imagine doing it as a form of everyday work and under such circumstances! WOW. Thanks for sharing all of this. And I want to say congratulations (on the medals), but instead, I’ll say Thank you because saying “thanks” just seems to make much more sense. WOW. Incredible!

    Liked by 1 person

    • contoveros says:

      I got the minimum of five jumps from either an airplane or a jet and got qualified as a paratrooper.
      There was only one jump ever performed in Vietnam because of the triple canopy jungle.
      It was fun and highly meditative.
      Sky dive? You gotta be crazy!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I’d imagine you received these for what, at the time, you saw as just doing your job. They show how much you cared about those who trusted you (with their lives)… well done and your son has created a loving memory!

    Like

    • contoveros says:

      You are so right. At the time, I was just doing my duty, trying to accomplish the mission, but also looking out for the welfare of my men.
      It is truly a loving memory!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. contoveros says:

    The following messages were sent over LinkedIn:

    Adam Rodgers

    THANKS FOR SHARING.
    TO BE A SERVANT IS A GREAT HONOR AND BLESSINGS COME UPON THOSE SERVED.
    YOU ARE A GOOD MAN CONTOS.

    Michael J Contos

    Yes, being a servant can be a true calling, be it through the military or serving as a public defender for poor people in the city of Philadelphia.
    Thank you, Adam!

    —————————

    Pat Murphy

    Thank you for your service. My brother and husband were in the Vietnam war, and unfortunately, people were unappreciative of their services during that time. We should all thank our veterans each day for their sacrifices.

    Michael J Contos
    You know some of the troubles we veterans had when returning home. It is so good to see family members show true appreciation for the work we did.

    Stephen Field

    Mike – service, loyalty, and sacrifice… way to go. Steve

    Michael J Contos

    Service, loyalty, and sacrifice!
    Thank you for your kind words so full of wisdom!

    —————
    J. Michael Farrell 1st teacher and Criminal Justice Activist

    Thank you for your service!

    Michael J Contos

    Thank you, my friend and former mentor. I really appreciate your message.

    ——————————————————————
    —————————————————————————-

    Below are messages that were shared on Facebook:

    Calliope Joy

    This is a labor of pure love twice. First by my smart, handsome cousin, Michael J Contos, and then by his thoughtful son Nicholas. Just a beautiful legacy made.

    Michael J Contos

    Calliope Joy Ah shucks. I bet you say that about all your cousins and their sons. It really feels good to have the project done and on display in the house. I see it every day and admire it when I pass by it.

    —————-

    Mary Trzeciak

    Your son did a beautiful tribute

    Michael J Contos

    Mary
    Yeah, I think I’ll keep him around a little while!
    Thanks . . .

    ——————

    Nicole Perry

    This is so special! What a beautiful gift.

    Michael J Contos

    Nicole
    Yes, it was a wonderful gift from my son who started working for the frame shop about a year ago and decided to enlarge the awards box on his own some three months ago.
    Really enjoy the artwork!

    ——————

    Marty Ketzi Wolfson

    Thank you!!!!!!

    Michael J Contos

    Thank you, Marty. When are we going to hear about your medals and your road to enlightenment which I believe you, as a good veteran, are quickly approaching?

    ——————

    Elise Segal

    Thank you for your service, Lieutenant!

    Michael J Contos

    My pleasure, Elise. Just doing my duty ma’am!

    ——————-

    Luba Schmid

    Awesome & so special!

    Michael J Contos
    Thank you so much Luba.
    My son is a gifted artist in his own right and applied his skills and crafts to such a memorable endeavor!
    Luba Schmid
    What a wonderful gifted son!

    ——————

    Cindy Gough James

    Amazing… lots of love to you!

    Michael J Contos

    I feel blessed and uplifted in a special kind of way if you know what I mean.
    And I do believe you – Cindy Gough James – know exactly what I mean!

    ——————-

    Michelle Seidner

    Thank you for your service!

    Michael J Contos

    I had very little to do with choice in the matter Michelle. I was about to be drafted so I “pushed up” my draft and went into the army and was commissioned as an officer a little more than a year later on the advice of my older brother.

    ——————-

    Cyndi Smith

    I love what you’ve done, excellent!!!

    Michael J Contos
    My son made it into a labor of love that will be on display in the Contos household for quite some time to come!
    I can’t get over all the comments that the post received Cyndi. It shows you that a little of compassion and wisdom can go a long way in any family.
    Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

    —————-

    Evarpitt Contos

    Awesome

    Michael J Contos

    Thank you, Evarpitt, from one Contos to another Contos!

    ————–

    Joy Alcoy

    Beautiful Michael

    Michael J Contos

    Thanks, Joy, my son outdid himself this time!
    My son is a gifted artist in his own right and applied his skills and crafts to such a memorable endeavor!

    Like

    • contoveros says:

      The following exchange was provided my Messenger with my good friend Nicole Perry from the Tibetan Buddhist Center of Philadelphia:

      Nicole Perry

      These are my dad’s medals that his girlfriend put in a frame for him (not as professional, but still very nice!). He has some of the same medals as you!
      Nicole

      (Photo unavailable but can be seen on Messenger by regular viewers)

      Michael J Contos

      We served in the same military outfit, the 25th Infantry Division. That’s the red strawberry with the golden lightning in it. I lost my dog tags in Vietnam but my son surprised me one day by getting them tattooed on his chest. Unfortunately, the tattoo reveals my social security number.
      Great shadow box for the medals here!

      Nicole

      Oh wow, what a coincidence that you were in the 25th Infantry too! And that is such a sweet gesture your son did with the tattoo. He sure sounds proud of you— as he should be!

      Like

  5. johncoyote says:

    This is amazing. I did the same for my father when they finally gave a Korean medal in 1998.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. very inspiring!

    Liked by 1 person

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