WASHINGTON — Marine Cpl. Michael Kilpatrick kneeled before a marble panel at the Vietnam Memorial on Tuesday and carefully laid at its base the Silver Star he won in Kuwait.
"This is for you, Dad," he said and saluted.
His mother, Bonnie Lucido, dabbed at her eyes.
"I wasn't looking forward to this day," she said afterward. "It's the first time I saw my son and his father share anything."
Michael is 22. At the same age in 1969, his father was killed in Vietnam. Capt. Donald Kilpatrick was a helicopter pilot. Michael drove a Badger reconnaissance vehicle in Operation Desert Storm.
Michael thought his father deserved the medal more.
"Somebody saw me doing my job and thought it was special for some reason," he said. "He's the one who should be getting an award for what he did. He paid the ultimate price."
Young Kilpatrick is from Allentown, Pa., and is stationed now at Camp Pendleton, Calif.
He won his medal for actions on Feb. 24 and 25. When his vehicle came under intense mortar and artillery fire on the 24th, the citation said, Kilpatrick maneuvered through the fire, simultaneously calling in air strikes.
The next day, when the enemy counterattacked, the young Marine, "with no regard for his personal safety," single-handedly disabled a tank. "His actions were critical in holding the counterattack and relieving the command post," the citation said.
The small ceremony in front of a Vietnam Memorial panel bearing Donald Kilpatrick's name took only a few minutes, a pause amid a summertime tourist crush.
When Michael finished, former Marine Corps Commandant A. M. Gray gave him a replacement medal.