Vietnam War Vet Denied Personalized Plate Commemorating His Purple Heart Award, Plate Deemed Too Offensive

Arnold Breitenbach, a Vietnam War veteran from Utah, says he was surprised to learn that the personalized license plate he requested, which paid tribute to the year he was wounded and awarded the Purple Heart, was denied because it was deemed offensive by the Utah Division of Motor Vehicles.

The plate that the veteran of the Vietnam War requested was CIB-69, which stands for Combat Infantryman Badge, which he was awarded along with the Purple Heart in 1969, after being wounded during a 12-month tour in Vietnam. Breitenbach served as a gunner on an Army armored personnel carrier and was injured in Vietnam when Vietnamese soldiers fired a rocket-propelled grenade at his APC while he was manning the gun turret.

Purple Heart Navy Times

The Vietnam hero couldn’t believe he was denied his personalized plate because the DMV deemed it to be too offensive, especially considering the overly sexualized nature of advertising these days.

“I figured in today’s day and age, when President Clinton can have all that stuff going on in the Oval Office and he says that what he did wasn’t really sex with that woman, [it’s odd] to be turned down because this is so offensive to the citizens of Utah. They’ve got Viagra [ads] all over the place. I can’t imagine myself sitting on the sofa with my parents when I was a little kid having something like that on TV. In today’s day and age, it seems like everything is out in the open.”

Breitenbach, who is not the only Vietnam War Veteran to be denied that specific plate, wrote a letter to Gov. Gary Herbert and Rep. Don Ipson seeking help with his case, but they just pointed him in the direction of an official appeal with the DMV. In January, after his appeal, the Vietnam vet was once again denied. It’s not just Utah, however. Across the United States, the number 69 is banned on personalized plates due to its sexual implications. In a letter to Breitenbach, Division of Motor Vehicles audit manager Sherri Murray explained that she understood his reasoning behind that specific personalization, but that ultimately, they were unable to grant it to him.

“While your intended meaning behind the requested plate, CIB-69, is honorable, the Division of Motor Vehicles is required to follow Utah law when approving personalized plates. Administrative Rule R873-22M-34 is clear regarding the use of ’69’ on personalized plates – ’69’ formats are prohibited unless used in a combination with the vehicle make, model, style, type, or commonly used or readily understood abbreviations of those terms.”

Ed Christy, who lives near Breitenbach, is another Vietnam War vet who attempted to get CIB-69 as a personalized plate, but was also denied. “I think it is kind of ridiculous, I was totally surprised,” Christy said, referring to the time his request had also been denied. He eventually settled for CIB-70 instead. The two vets didn’t know each other during their time serving in Vietnam, although they did serve at the same time.

Should the number 69 rule apply to everyone, no matter their story or should certain people, like these two Vietnam War veterans, be exempt?

[Image Credits: Navy Times via Arnold Breitenbach]