Retired Army Veteran Joseph DoPadre, a Hometown Hero

Published: Apr. 4, 2013 at 2:27 AM CDT|Updated: Apr. 4, 2013 at 5:20 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Joseph DoPadre, 86, has fought more than just battles in the combat zone, he has been battling cancer for 11 years.

"We were checking old French Foreign Legion trenches. We had rats in there as big as cats. They were spraying the area and I got sprayed with the Agent Orange and that's why I got my cancer," DoPadre said.

Despite this, DoPadre continued to fight for his country in the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Out of his 24 years in the Army, he describes the years spent in Vietnam as the worst.

"The first time we went to Vietnam we did a lot of patrolling. The second time, it caught up with me. I got involved in a couple bad things there," said DoPadre.

"I got blown up. Some guys picked me up and they took me into an aide station. I said, 'Leave me alone, I'm alright.' There were a lot of wounded guys, guys in really bad shape. I said, 'Let me get out of here' so I got out of there."

DoPadre has been awarded several prestigious honors for his bravery, including one for saving his Lieutenant Colonel's life.

"We used to jump out of helicopters and he did come down on his knees and hurt himself. He could have gotten hurt badly and I got him out of there," DoPadre said.

And now, the Lieutenant Colonel calls him every month to thank him for saving his life.

DoPadre was awarded 2 Bronze Stars, the Air Medal and the Army Commendation Medal for Valor Under Fire 5 times. But despite all these remarkable rewards, he says he wasn't brave, he was just doing his job.

DoPadre says, "The only valor was I didn't run. I just stayed there because I didn't know where to go."

Although DoPadre's cancer has not been cured, he says he will always be a soldier and fight to the very end.

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