(AP) It came 32 years after he was wounded in Korea, but actor James Garner was delighted Monday to finally get his Purple Heart from the U.S. Army.
"After 32 years, it's better to receive this now than posthumously," said Garner, a native of Norman, OK, as Maj. Gen. Lyle Barker pinned the medal to his plaid jacket. "It is indeed an honor and I tried to serve my country to the best of my ability."
The medal was delayed through a mixup. The army decided to present it after Garner commented on ABC's "Good Morning America" in November that he had never gotten it.
The presentation was made in the office of Lorimar Productions, for whom, incidentally, Garner is about to begin a military movie called "Tank."
Garner, then Pvt. James S. Bumgarner, was wounded April 23, 1951, while serving with the 24th Division.
"I was going south fighting the North Koreans at the time," said Garner, who shortened his name when he became an actor.
"As a matter of fact, I got it in the backside. I went into a foxhole headfirst and I was a little late. There's a lot of room for error with a wound in the rear. It's a wide target."
The wound was Garner's second in Korea, but the first that required hospitalization. Earlier, he was hit in a hand by shrapnal from a mortar round.
"I was drafted and then I got out as fast as I could," he said.
"Do I have fond memories? I guess if you get together with some buddies it's fond. But it really wasn't. It was cold and hard. I was one of the lucky ones. BIOG: NAME:Archive ID: 105372