Wednesday, August 20 2014 5:43 AM EDT2014-08-20 09:43:48 GMT
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -
The stacks of shirts and supplies surrounding Allan Kellogg's desk at the Department of Veteran's Affairs are for homeless veterans he helps.
"The more you get off the streets, the more come on the streets," he said.
Kellogg has devoted 20 years to helping veterans after 30 years in the U.S. Marine Corps and one day that changed his life.
"When you're messing around with a hand grenade you got three to five seconds to make up your mind what you're going to do before the show's over," he said.
In the spring of 1970, Kellogg was a 26-year-old Staff Sergeant fighting in Vietnam. On March 11 he was leading his squad through a rice paddy to an extraction point.
"The enemy was doing the same thing we do, sneak up on the guy that's giving the commands, get him, and hope the rest of them are like sheep. they take off because there's no more bell around to follow," he said.
When he crossed a footbridge a Vietcong soldier threw a grenade. It glanced off his chest. He grabbed it and covered it with his body to save his men.
"I pushed it down into the mud and everything, after I yelled, 'Grenade!' Then I tried to get my hands away from it. It went off," he said.
Kellogg took the brunt of the blast. But two flak jackets and soggy ground saved him.
"Being in a muddy paddy where the explosion went off, it blew out from under me because it was all mud and stuff. Dirt and water," he said.
Even though he was bleeding from multiple wounds, Kellogg kept moving his men to safety.
"When you're fighting for your life, you have a tendency to do things you don't normally do," he said. "You just get out there and you do what you have to do to survive."
Kellogg was awarded the Navy Cross for valor. Then in 1973 President Richard Nixon presented him with the Medal of Honor.
"It was an individual deed. But I'm wearing it for everybody, for the ones that died and the ones that are alive and the ones that go down the road. The whole works," He said.
In the office where he assembles care packages for vets who need them, there's little evidence of Kellogg's past service or his stature.
But the 68-year-old is one of only 81 living Medal of Honor recipients who can wear the nation's highest military honor.