Air Force veteran Margaret Sutherland has officially become the first Australian woman to receive the US Air Medal.
The accolade, shared with the 41st President George Bush and American military's second-most-decorated woman, Aleda Lutz, was granted to Mrs Sutherland last year but a ceremony couldn't take place.
So with family travelling to see her at Westmont Baranduda for her 81st birthday this week, the Albury-Wodonga Branch of the Air Force Association made it happen.
President Grahame Carroll read out congratulations from US Air Attache Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Cunnar, who was unable to come from Canberra.
"I'm incredibly happy that after all these years, we can finally recognise the service of ADF members," he said.
"The Air Medal is a very prestigious medal awarded for meritorious achievement ... now, Margaret, your name can be added to that list."
Margaret Sutherland (nee Curgenven) served in the Royal Australian Air Force Nursing Service from 1965 to 1968, being posted to 4RAAF Hospital Butterworth in Malaysia.
She was assigned to a US Aero Medical Evacuation Squadron and undertook combat support missions in South Vietnam.
Since WWII, and on limited occasions, the Air Medal has been awarded to members of allied foreign forces.
Changing acceptance of women's service and protocol around war medals enabled the TPI Association of South Australia to successfully apply for recognition of Mrs Sutherland.
"They put in an application to prove who I was and what I did," she said.
"Our government said then women didn't go to Vietnam, but I did.
"I did 40 combat support missions in 60 days and we evacuated 2500 casualties.
"It's gratifying to know that at last, I've been recognised. It's opened the door for a lot of other people to apply."
The TPI Association's Gaynor Tilley wrote about a 1967 ceremony in which Mrs Sutherland was taking photos of her U.S. colleagues receiving the Air Medal; the Chief Nurse "turned to Margaret ... and told her she would like to have awarded Margaret the U.S. Air Medal".
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It was not allowed by Australian government medal protocol at the time, the TPI said.
Mr Carroll said the awarding of the medal, some 50 years after the Border woman's service, was significant.
"I'm sure she could tell you some very interesting stories that occurred during that time, of being shot at by aircraft," he said.
"This has come at a special time for Margaret and for the RAAF - this year is the 100th anniversary."