Tewksbury Korean War Veterans Honored In Dracut Medal Ceremony
US Navy Veteran and former State Representative Kevin Sullivan receives the Korean Ambassador Peace Medal surrounded by family and officials for his time in the Sea Bees during the Korean War.
Dracut – In a packed room decorated with patriotic displays, sat a group of older men waiting for an honor decades after their return to their communities from what is commonly referred to as “The Forgotten War”. Greeted by Dracut Veterans Agent Jeff Hollet, and after a number of speeches, bright ribbons bearing the Korean Ambassador for Peace Medal were hung around each proud veterans neck one by one.
As each man was decorated Korean and state officials thanked them individually for their service which they spent liberated South Korea and began the close relations between the two nations. Among the recipients were US Army veteran Albert Miano, US Army veteran Francis D. Harrington (medal received by his widow, Margarite Harrington), US Army veteran James Alton Quinn, US Navy veteran and State Representative Kevin Sullivan, and US Army veteran Raymond Carlsen, the last two of whom received theirs in private ceremonies with family.
“I was absolutely honored to be at the ceremony and personally thank these men, some of who only enlisted as teenagers, for what they did in defense of the free world” said Representative David Robertson. “As Secretary (of Veterans Affairs) Urena said they are responsible for the freedom of South Korea today, our close relations, and for the consulate to honor each one individually really showed the thanks both nations have for them. Each of them have an amazing story, and we cannot ever forget what they did.”
Originally presented to veterans who returned to South Korea, the program was expanded to include every veteran who served during the war from June 25, 1950 to July 27, 1953 and during UN peacekeeping missions until 1955. Since then Veterans Agents like Jeff Hollet have worked with families to identify qualifying veterans, holding ceremonies and celebrations in honor. Mr. Hollet, along with colleagues in Northeast Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire identified 57 local veterans who had not yet been awarded the medal. It is important to note the medal does not honor combat or actions taken against enemies, but rather celebrates and thanks the veterans for the peace and freedom they brought upon Korea.
“It was truly an honor and privilege to join Consulate General Kim Yonghyon and colleagues in presenting these medals to these 57 heroes today” said Representative Tram Nguyen, “I was particularly proud of the citations that Representative Robertson and Senator Finegold and I each presented to these Tewksbury men and their families, men who fought bravely for total stranger's freedom a world away. It was truly special.”
In addition to their medals, each veteran received an honorary citation from the Massachusetts House of Representatives, Massachusetts Senate, Congress, and each town they resided in.
Medals are still available for qualifying veterans and their families who have not been awarded one previously. Medals may be presented posthumously to surviving spouses or dependents, and applications for recipients is available from the Korean Consulate at (617) 641-2830. Veterans must have served in the Korean War between June 25, 1950 to July 27, 1953, or in UN operations in the area until 1955.