Army vet awarded military honor

WINDHAM – A military veteran from Windham was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the Army’s second-highest military honor, for heroism he displayed in the Vietnam War.

An injured Robert Towles singlehandedly attacked and disabled an enemy machine gun position, which allowed Towles’ company to escape with many of its wounded soldiers during an ambush attack on Nov. 17, 1965.

Towles then led a group of soldiers back into the dangerous territory to keep the enemy at bay while the remaining injured soldiers were taken out, according officials. During the ambush, 155 soldiers in the 400-person unit were killed, and 128 more were injured.

Towles, who grew up in Niles and enlisted in 1963 after graduating from Niles McKinley High School, was initially awarded the Bronze Star for Valor, but it was later determined he was eligible for the Distinguished Service Cross.

In December 2013, U.S. Rep. Timothy J. Ryan, D-Howland, introduced language honoring Towles into the National Defense Authorization Act. Towles was presented the medal Thursday at Windham High School by U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown.

Ryan said Towles’ recognition is ”well deserved and long overdue.”

”I commend him once again for his life saving heroic service to our country,” Ryan said.

Said Brown, Towles is a ”hero who exemplified true bravery, honor and sacrifice” whose action deserve ”gratitude, respect and the Distinguished Service Cross.”