CLINTON — Forty-three years after serving his country in Vietnam, Fitchburg resident Owen McNamara was honored Sunday in a fashion that many would argue was long overdue.
McNamara is probably not one of those people. But the humble Army veteran was grateful for the Bronze Star Medal for Valor bestowed upon him at Clinton High School.
In front of friends, family and locals thankful for his service, McNamara had the medal pinned by former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown. During his time in the military, McNamara helped a pair of fellow soldiers survive after a bombing, an act that Brown called “heroic.”
“Obtaining medals for people who deserve them is one of the things I miss (from my time as a senator),” Brown said. “I’m happy to be able to honor (McNamara) for what he has done for this great country.”
Master of ceremonies and Clinton High Principal James Hastings remarked on how incredible McNamara’s actions were in a time of war, noting the Clinton native was always “humble” and always exhibited “an appreciation of others.”
“Owen is the type of person that when he sees you, he honestly cares about how you’re doing,” Hastings said. “He wants to know how your entire family is. He brought that trait with him to his military commitments and it proved to be very valuable.”
Mark and Paul McNamara, two of the honoree’s sons currently serving in the armed forces, as well as his daughter, Meredith McNamara, and son Michael were present for the ceremony, with Paul reading the official citation before the pinning by Brown.
McNamara learned he would be receiving the honor late last year, with a trio of his comrades relaying the story of him caring for a wounded soldier and, in essence, saving his life.
Also on hand were Rev. Beverly Prestwood-Taylor, executive director of the Brookfield Institute, and Kevin Lambert, who represented the Massachusetts Department of Veterans Services. Both knew the struggles McNamara had been through and spoke highly of his advocacy for helping returning veterans returning from service.
“I met Owen almost exactly four years ago during a workshop for veterans with the Brookfield Institute, and he pleaded with me to keep reaching out to veterans,” Prestwood-Taylor said. “He told me that veterans aren’t going to ask for help and will turn it away, but that we need to keep reaching out to them.
“It’s an honor to pay tribute to him for what he keeps doing. He wants to continue to help.”