Truman staff member receives Army award after 33 years

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Thirty-three years after his service in the Army, Roger Marsh, Director of Campus Mail Services, received the Army Commendation Medal Tuesday, Feb. 18 among his family and friends.

Marsh served in the Army from June 1978 to July 1981. For his good service, he was to receive the Army Commendation Medal, but after leaving the Army, he didn’t get the award. Marsh says he thought it would just come in the mail, but as years passed, he never received it.

“It was always on the back of my mind,” Marsh says. “It was always, ‘Crap, I wonder what happened to that,’ kind of like an itch you couldn’t scratch, so there was nothing you could do about it. But when I learned that you could do something about it, I thought that I’d pursue it and see what can happen.”

During 2009, Marsh decided to begin the process of trying to get his medal. However, he didn’t know just how long the process would take. Marsh says he sent a letter to the National Archives in St. Louis, which holds all military personnel records, but a year later, he received a note saying they had no record of the medal.

This was the start of a five-year process involving contacting past officers and filling out forms repeatedly as they were sent back for various errors.

“It’s kind of like having to do the whole award again,” Marsh says. “[Except] you’re just trying to find everybody, get everything signed, get it sent off to the right people, then they check it, and if there’s anything wrong, then they kick it back.”

During December 2013, through Marsh’s efforts and help of Sixth Congressional District Congressman Sam Graves, who sponsored his request, approval for the award came through.

The Ceremony

After years of waiting, the seats of the SUB Activities Room were full of friends, family and ROTC students as Marsh received his medal and certificate from Graves’ Chief of Staff Tom Brown and Lt. Col. Steven Petersen, Military Science professor. Brown says the number of friends and family who came to the ceremony was a testament to Marsh’s character.

University President Troy Paino, who was present for the ceremony, said he thinks it was important that Marsh received his award and was glad to be present.

“The fact that we finally get to recognize him and give him the honor that he so justly deserves is great,” Paino said. “It’s a great part about being a part of this country and I’m just happy to be here.”

Petersen, who is head of Truman’s ROTC program, says he was happy ROTC could be a part of the ceremony honoring Marsh for his service. He says recognizing those who have served in the past is an obligation of those who currently serve.

After receiving his medal, Marsh says he was happy to get the award and glad his family was there to celebrate with him.

“It gets me all choked up, especially when I looked out and saw all my friends and family here,” Marsh says. “It was very touching. The one reason why I wanted to do it here was so I could share it with friends and family. I really enjoy working here at Truman and I’m blessed to have family who cared enough to come up here today and share this moment with me, and my coworkers who came for support. It was a great feeling.”