A Vietnam veteran and two-time recipient of the Purple Heart said he was attacked Saturday at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport.
Jack Hughes, 66, said when he came home from battle in the 1960s, people threw rotten eggs at his uniform. Vietnam was an unpopular war and he expected that back then.
He said he didn’t expect to be assaulted by other Marines when he arrived Saturday.
Hughes, who lives in Gastonia, showed Channel 9 the jacket he wore Saturday with his medals and ribbons.
He cried thinking about the feeling he had when he said Marines at the airport accused him of pretending to be a veteran.
“I just can’t believe that one veteran or group of veterans would do that to somebody else,” Hughes said.
He said as he got off the plane from a Veterans Day event in St. Louis, another man, claiming to be a Marine himself, walked towards him yelling.
“Your ribbons are crooked. You’re a fake. You are a phony,” Hughes said the man shouted.
Hughes said he tried to explain that he earned two Purple Hearts in battle in Vietnam. He showed Channel 9 a picture he said was of an officer presenting one of the medals in a hospital and telegrams to his parents, informing them that Hughes had been wounded in battle.
He said another man at the airport Saturday tried to rip off his ribbons. Hughes said the man said to him, “I’m an active duty Marine.’ And he just ripped the buttons right off.”
He said the men were recording the encounter and taunting him with people watching.
He showed Channel 9 his VA health care card, but they insisted he was faking.
“I gave everything I had, for them to degrade it that way,” Hughes said.
Hughes said police finally intervened. He wanted the man who he said assaulted him arrested, but officers told Channel 9 it was a simple assault, which is a misdemeanor.
The officer made the other man apologize.
Hughes said that’s not enough. He wants to make sure this doesn’t happen to any other veterans.