It is sometimes referred to as the “forgotten war” but on Tuesday the sacrifices of those that served during the Korean War was brought front and center for a special recognition and the awarding of Ambassador for Peace Medals to almost a hundred local veterans.
The ceremony at California State University, Stanislaus brought out around 90 veterans, and a large contingency of widows, families, friends and dignitaries seeking a chance to honor the individuals who served during the Korean War.
“We are here to thank the selfless commitment of those who were willing to sacrifice so much,” said Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Turlock), who hosted the ceremony.
The Ambassador for Peace Medal is given to veterans in appreciation from the South Korean government. It was initially presented beginning in 1975 to veterans as a memento for those who returned to South Korea through the Revisit Program, but since that time has expanded to veterans who cannot travel to South Korea. To be eligible for the medal the veterans must have served in Korea from June 25, 1950 to July 27, 1953, it is also available to veterans who have participated in United Nations peacekeeping operations until the end of 1955.
“Without the sacrifice of the Korean War veterans, Korea would not be enjoying the democracy we have,” said Han Dong-Man, the Consul General of the Republic of Korea in San Francisco.
Dong-Man was at the ceremony to hand out the medals and told the crowd how much the country has changed because of the service of the veterans, but that one thing would remain constant — their gratitude.
“Your sacrifice and devotion will forever be recorded in history,” Dong-Man said.
Eighty-three year-old John Gibson was at the ceremony to receive his well-earned medal. From 1951 to 1953, Gibson served as an ambulance driver in Korea, shuttling the wounded and dying from the front lines to the mobile hospitals.
“It’s been a long time, but being here around all these guys brings up some memories,” Gibson said. “I’m glad they got around to giving us these medals. It’s been a long-time coming, and it’s something special.”
The ceremony was both an honor and a sad reminder for Raymond Algeo, who served on the front lines from 1951 to 1954.
“The ones that aren’t here are the ones that deserve what I got, “Algeo said of the more than 36,000 soldiers killed during the Korean War.