46 years later, Alex Bubas receives Bronze Star

Alex Bubas, center, with his  wife, Carole, is prsented the Bronze Star by retired-Gen. Andrew H. Anderson. Bubas, who owned Zia’s Italian Restaurant 22 years, didn’t receive the medal at the time because his service in Vietnam was ending and the troops and officers who stayed there were in battle.

Alex Bubas, center, with his wife, Carole, is prsented the Bronze Star by retired-Gen. Andrew H. Anderson. Bubas, who owned Zia’s Italian Restaurant 22 years, didn’t receive the medal at the time because his service in Vietnam was ending and the troops and officers who stayed there were in battle.

Forty-six years after leaving Vietnam, Delmar resident Alex Bubas finally received a Bronze Star for valor.

About four weeks ago, at a reunion in Niagara Falls he and his wife, Carole, attended with military buddies, Bubas was presented with the prestigious medal by Andrew H. Anderson, a retired two-star general who now lives in Trappe.

Bubas, who owned Zia’s Italian Restaurant 22 years, didn’t receive the medal at the time because his service in Vietnam was ending and the troops and officers who stayed there were in battle.

“I can understand,” he said, but he was pleased to receive it for his actions while serving in the U.S. Army from 1966 to 1968, and in Vietnam from 1967-68.

“I came home March 28 or 29 of ’68, so I had like five weeks left in the country at the time of this incident,” he recalled.

“I was assigned to the headquarters platoon of our infantry company. I was with the company commander, who was the captain and I was his radio operator,” Bubas said.

On a mission, he said, “We went headlong into a well-armed, highly trained uniformed regular Vietnamese army infantry. Bang. It caught me totally by surprise. Up until then we hadn’t confronted that yet. We were one company with 110 to 120 troops,” he said.

Those troops were facing 800 to 900 enemies.

“We didn’t know they were there. We just moved forward and all of a sudden they opened fire on us and we had a mess on our hands,” he recalled.

There were three infantry platoons up front, the first platoon on left, the second in the middle and the third on the right.

“We had a real tough time and our commanding officer says to me, ‘Get me all three platoon leaders,’” so he could call in an air strike.

Bubas remembered contacting the first and third platoon leaders on the radio, but got no response from the second platoon leader. He grabbed his helmet, rifle, radio and ammunition. The officer asked where he was going.

“I said, ‘I am  taking them my radio,’” he said.

Making his way through areas of extensive fire, with small arms and machine guns blasting, he discovered that the second platoon leader’s radio operator had been shot and killed.

“I got his radio and we got the hell out of there,” he said.

“We got back and I was just happy to get back alive. The commanding officer said, ‘Nice job. I’m going to put you in for a bronze star.’ But it didn’t even faze me what he said.

“He called in an air strike. More troops came in and reengaged them. We had several killed and wounded. I was blessed. I went through that 12 months in Vietnam and I should have, but I never, got a scratch,” he said.

If he had not taken action, he speculated, “I don’t know what would have happened, but without communication that platoon was in deep crap.”

“If we pulled out without the second platoon, 35 or 40 men would have been killed or taken prisoner,” he said.

“I never – and I still don’t – consider what I did as being heroic. I did what I thought I had to do as a member of the team. And every single member of the team, every person I served with given the same situation … would have done the same thing,” Bubas said.

“These guys were friends of mine and they needed a radio and I did what I had to do.”

Contact Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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