Cicilline Presents Long Overdue Purple Heart to Woonsocket Vietnam Veteran

Saturday, February 1, 2020

WOONSOCKET – U.S. Congressman David N. Cicilline (RI-01) awarded Specialist 5th Class Ernie Boisvert, a Vietnam veteran and Woonsocket resident who was injured during a battle in Pleiku, with the Purple Heart medal he never received following his injuries sustained during one of the most brutal battles of the war.


“Ernie represents the very best that our state has to offer,” Cicilline said. “His selfless sacrifices in defense of our nation during his service is a testament to the values that he carries with him to this day. I’m honored to call Ernie a friend, having developed a strong relationship through his work advocating for Rhode Island veterans in his role at the Rhode Island Chapter of Disabled Veterans. He deserved this medal years ago, and I’m proud that we could finally honor his service by awarding it to him today.”


On May 22, 1967, while serving in Pleiku with Company A, 3rd Battalion, 12th Infantry, 4th Infantry Division, Ernest Boisvert engaged in combat during one of the most significant battles of the Vietnam War. While positioned in a foxhole, Boisvert and two fellow soldiers came under heavy enemy fire at which time Boisvert was struck in the face by shrapnel from ordinance that took the life of his Lieutenant. Upon returning to the military hospital, his injuries were considered low priority due to the severe injuries sustained to other soldiers during the battle. He was never formally treated, and he never received recognition for his sacrifice during the battle.


More than five decades after he sustained his injuries, Boisvert approached Cicilline’s office in January 2018 requesting assistance with an application for the retroactive Purple Heart award he deserved. After initially being declined due to the lack of medical records and documentation supporting his claim that would have been recorded had he been treated following the battle, Cicilline’s office appealed the Department of the Army’s denial twice before finally securing their approval.


Cicilline’s office remains a resource for veterans, servicemembers, and their families throughout the First Congressional District of Rhode Island. Those in need of assistance should contact his office at 729-5600.





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