INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ Bill Cordray was 21 when he and two comrades were wounded on patrol in Vietnam on July 4, 1968, but the Purple Heart he earned didn't catch up with him until Saturday.

Cordray was notified he was eligible for the medal in 1968, but it never arrived. Two years ago, he tried to go through ''normal protocol the government required, but we never got a response from anyone,'' said his wife, Diane.

''Bill was so disgusted - no, disappointed is a better word - he decided not to fool with it again,'' she said.

But Mrs. Cordray wasn't ready to give up.

In March, without her husband's knowledge, she called the offices of Indiana's U.S. senators, Richard Lugar and Dan Coats, for help with the paperwork.

The medal arrived this week, but Mrs. Cordray didn't tell her husband until Saturday.

''He was very emotional, speechless, for several minutes. He had given up hope of receiving the medal,'' she said. ''We don't know if the other two soldiers ever received their medal. My husband has had no contact with them since that day.''