The Turlock chapter of the Sons in Retirement gave a salute to the area’s Korean War veterans with a special ceremony Wednesday that included the presentation of the Ambassador for Peace Medals.
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.
The SIRS ceremony was coordinated in conjunction with Congressman Jeff Denham’s office through the work of Rakesh “Ricky” Pal, himself a wounded warrior from the war in Iraq. Pal learned of the program when a constituent asked the Congressman’s office to assist in having the medal presented. Pal started calling the South Korean consulate in San Francisco and soon had hundreds of area Korean veterans eligible for the medal.
“It’s truly an honor to be doing this for them,” Pal said. “This is the best part of my job.”
The SIRS ceremony recognized 93 Korean veterans from the area with the medals and certificates. The organization brought in local officials and Mike Seward, a retired Rear Admiral with the United States Coast Guard to assist in the presentations. SIRS also paid tribute to the area’s veterans from World War II and the Vietnam War, as well as those that served in the armed services during the Cold War.
“We are eternally grateful for your service,” Seward told the Korean War veterans. “You will never be forgotten, nor will your war be forgotten.”