More detail on this person: Larry Eldin Bruce - Vietnam veteran was hero to his wife
Life Stories - Larry Eldin Bruce sought no attention for his good deeds
Larry Bruce wasn't looking for glory when he flew rescue missions in Vietnam or pulled children from a burning pickup truck in Marshall County.
He was just following his instincts and had a deep sense of responsibility to help others, his wife, Pam Bruce said.
"I think he was a hero," Pam said.
Strangers would have a hard time knowing that, however.
"I don't think they would think of him as a hero," she said. "He was so quiet about it."
Larry Eldin Bruce, 58, died Sept. 26 at his Grant home. He learned he had cancer about a year ago.
Larry was chief of the logistics modernization program solution development branch with the Army on Redstone Arsenal. He was always trying to find ways to make the Army run smoother, which was not always a popular job, Pam said.
Larry worked until he entered Huntsville Hospital about a month before his death. He died at home the day after he was released from the hospital.
"He dedicated himself to his work," Pam said.
Larry, a helicopter pilot for the Army's 4th Cavalry, was awarded the Silver Star for flying rescue missions during his two tours of Vietnam.
"He was so modest about it," Pam said.
Larry signed up for a second hitch to keep his only brother from being sent to Vietnam, she said. Larry, who lost many friends in Vietnam, was afraid his younger brother "would not have survived" if he had been sent to Vietnam.
He was exposed to Agent Orange while in Vietnam and Pam said the herbicide led to the cancer that killed him.
The Bruces were awarded the Army's Civilian Award for Humanitarian Service for risking their lives to save three children from a burning pickup truck in 1997.
They were in the Guntersville area in April 1997 looking for a house to prepare for their move here from St. Louis when they came upon the truck burning in a ravine off Alabama 79.
The Bruces ran to the burning truck and Larry smashed the windshield with a large rock. The trapped girl took Pam's hand and crawled to safety.
The girl's two younger brothers, ages 10 and 12, were trapped in the wreckage. Larry opened a passenger door and pulled one boy to safety; then he removed the crumpled dashboard and pulled the other boy free with the help of other onlookers.
After the children were taken to area hospitals, the Bruces drove home to St. Louis. They never saw the children again. Pam said she doesn't know if all of the children survived.
The couple didn't tell anyone about what they did at the burning truck. But word got out and they were honored by the Army.
The Bruces, who were married for nine years, met when Pam lived in St. Louis and Larry moved there with his job.
"I needed somebody who was strong and intelligent and was fun, too," Pam said, when asked what attracted her to Larry. "He was the whole ball of wax."
Larry had a dry sense of humor, always liked to challenge authority and liked to play the devil's advocate, she said. He also liked to spend time in a bar knocking back a few drinks while trying to solve all of the world's problems.
Pam said Larry touched a lot of lives and maintained many friendships.
She didn't think they had a lot of friends when they moved here. But, after his death, the cards from people in Washington, Oregon and Minnesota - places where Larry grew up - and St. Louis dispelled that notion.
"I've gotten an avalanche of cards from people who tell me how proud I should be to have been married to him," Pam said.
There was no funeral service. Pam plans a large party in the spring where she will divide Larry's ashes among his friends to be spread throughout the world, she said.
This information was last updated 05/18/2016
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Date posted on this site: 04/14/2021
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