Above: Gottheimer Presents Fran Carrasco With Army Commendation Medal
MOONACHIE, NJ – On Sunday, March 1, 2020, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) spoke at the Bergen County American Legion annual dinner and awarded Commander Fran Carrasco his long-overdue Army Commendation medal after serving in Vietnam.
“Fran is a true American hero, Patriot, and Community member who faithfully served our country and deserves that recognition,” said U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). “We were able to cut through red tape to secure the medal by writing to the Secretary of the Army and helping Fran’s Company Commander Major Salem Wyatt and others he served with verifying his narrative.”
During his service in April of 1970, in a bunker near the Ho-Chi-Minh trail, Commander Carrasco and his unit were tasked with defending the Fire Support Base Nancy — an artillery base — where their unit came under fire from the NVA. An RPG round hit Commander Carrasco’s bunker and he suffered from a shrapnel wound in his shoulders and arms. Commander Carrasco and his unit held the position until morning. Had the roadway been breached, the NVA could have captured more than 150 pieces of artillery and killed American soldiers.
Commander Carrasco received a Purple Heart but did not receive his Army Commendation Medal with “V” device until he placed an inquiry with Gottheimer’s office. Gottheimer’s office was able to quickly verify Commander Carrasco’s information by writing to the Secretary of the Army.
In 2009 Commander Carrasco started the “New Jersey’s Mission of Honor for Cremains of American Veterans,” with the mission of locating, identifying any orphaned and abandoned veteran cremains.
To date, Fran has helped take over 618 veterans off the shelves, over 330 veteran’s cremains have been reunited with their families, and over 288 Forgotten veterans have been honored and interred. Some remains have been sitting on shelves for over seventy years.
During this Congress, Gottheimer has helped lead several initiatives to fight for North Jersey’s veterans:
· Gottheimer recently announced that eligible North Jersey veterans will now be able to receive health care referrals to Bergen New Bridge Medical Center, following the hospital’s approval as a VA Community Care Network (CCN) provider — a priority Gottheimer discussed with the Director of the VA New Jersey Health Care System this past fall. Gottheimer’s announcement will provide North Jersey veterans with shorter drive times and greater access to care for veterans in the Fifth District,
· The House passed Gottheimer’s bipartisan legislation to invest in filling the more than 49,000 vacant positions at the VA.
· The House also passed Gottheimer’s bipartisan legislation to increase investment for the Veterans Health Administration to specifically hire more mental health professionals.