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SUNRISE (CBSMiami) — Now to a weekly segment you will only see right here on CBS4.

Every Friday, in partnership with the Florida Panthers, we put the spotlight on a hero among us; men or women who have gone beyond the call of duty for our country.

Today, we are meeting U.S. Army Vietnam Veteran Specialist Joe Rieger.

Joe was drafted on February 10, 1970.  He says his first thoughts about Vietnam was the anticipation of the unknown.  He was stationed in South Vietnam where he was in charge of controlling aircraft and helicopters.

The hardest part, says Rieger, was controlling traffic because of the massive amounts of gunships coming in at the same time.

“I knew a lot of the pilots because we talked to each other every day.  It was a dangerous job for them going out.  I absolutely felt that I did a great job as a controller,” he said.

He added, “Being in the gay community I felt that the gay community has been there in the past, we’re there right now and will be there in the future to defend the United States for the freedom of everybody,” said Joe Rieger.

U.S. Army Vietnam Veteran Specialist Joe Rieger (CBS4)

Joe Rieger, who received the National Defense Service Medal prior to his discharge in September 1971, was honored at a recent Florida Panthers game.

He proudly thanked the fan-filled arena for their standing ovation and it was clear he was having a great time jokingly telling the crowd to call him holding up an old brick cell phone he brought with him.

On behalf of the Florida Panthers and CBS4 we would like to say thank you Specialist Joe Rieger for your humor but most importantly for your service and dedication.

Marybel Rodriguez

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