This story was corrected on June 8, 2012. An explanation follows the story.
Although he spent six years in the “Hanoi Hilton,” an infamous North Vietnam prison after his plane was shot down during the Vietnam War, retired U.S. Navy Capt. Michael Paul Cronin of Darnestown does not consider himself a hero.
Members of the Hungerford’s Tavern Chapter, Potomac, thought otherwise and nominated him for the Daughters of the American Revolution Medal of Honor, an award given to a U.S. citizen showing extraordinary leadership, trustworthiness, service and patriotism.
Cronin received the award at the DAR Maryland State Conference in Baltimore on March 24.
“I was honored, but all these honors are in a way embarrassing,” Cronin said. “Fifty-eight thousand guys are dead, many others are missing [limbs]. I’m grateful and am an obvious target [for awards] but I wonder, ‘Why me?’”
There are plenty of reasons why the group nominated Cronin, according to a letter from Kathryn George of the Hungerford’s Tavern chapter.
The 1963 U.S. Naval Academy graduate earned two Silver Stars, The Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, four Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts during his years in the Navy, George wrote.
“Captain Cronin made a lasting contribution to American heritage through his service as Navy pilot during the Vietnam War, his courageous and valiant record as a U.S. POW, and for having conceived the idea and working to pass the War Crimes Act of 1996, which states that any war crimes committed to or by a U.S. Armed Services member or U.S. national are federal crimes as required by the Geneva Conventions,” George wrote.
This story was updated to reflect the correct date of the War Crimes Act.