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Many of the living Medal of Honor recipients are in Boston this week for the Congressional Medal of Honor Society's annual convention. It's the third time the society has held its convention here.
There are currently 78 living recipients of the nation's highest military honor and convention organizers say more than three dozen of them will be part of the events this week.
“These Medal of Honor Recipients have formed a strong bond with the city and people of Boston and to be able to honor them here for the third time in 14 years is unprecedented in the history of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society," Thomas J. Lyons, chairman of the Boston Medal of Honor Convention Host Committee, said in a statement. “The service and sacrifices they have made on behalf of the nation, and their unwavering support for our men and women in uniform, is awe inspiring and we intend to host their convention in a manner that will truly honor and celebrate these incredible heroes."
Medal of Honor recipients who fought in World War II, Korea, Vietnam and Afghanistan and are in town for the convention will share their stories with students at a dozen area schools this week. Many of them will travel to those schools in Black Hawk helicopters provided by the Massachusetts National Guard.
One of the men making school visits is Thomas Kelley, a Boston native who served as the secretary of the Massachusetts Department of Veterans' Services after he retired from the U.S. Navy.
Kelley was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in 1969 in South Vietnam, when he led a fleet of river assault craft boats on a mission to rescue a U.S. Army infantry company from the banks of the Ong Muong Canal.
"I am especially excited that our most recent recipients from Afghanistan and Vietnam who have not been here before will be able to experience the sense of patriotism and honor which is the hallmark of Boston,’’ Kelley said in the statement. He will speak to students at Boston College High School Wednesday morning along with Gary Wetzel, a soldier from Wisconsin who was also honored for gallantry in Vietnam. Wetzel lost his left arm as he fought back against the enemy after his helicopter was shot down in January of 1968.
The Medal of Honor Convention runs through Sunday.
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