A stamp of approval for war veteran Ernie West
WURTLAND, Ky. — Extra chairs will be placed in the gym at Wurtland Middle School Saturday morning to receive a hometown crowd likely to include many military veterans, as the U.S. Postal Service conducts a Medal of Honor stamp dedication saluting Greenup County Medal of Honor recipient Ernie West.
“We’re hoping between 150 and 200 show up,” said Greenup Postmaster Teri Thomas, explaining extra chairs on loan from the McConnell House will be placed on the gym floor so all veterans, or anyone with a disability, will not have to climb onto the bleachers to find a seat.
The 11 a.m. gathering will be a dedication ceremony for the USPS Medal of Honor: Korean War Forever® Stamps, which feature a photo of West among the nation’s surviving Medal of Honor recipients.
“Despite serious wounds, on Oct. 12, 1952, Private 1st Class Ernest West fought off enemy forces and evacuated wounded soldiers following an ambush near Sataeri, Korea. He was awarded the Medal of Honor on Jan. 12, 1954,” according to a statement released by the Postal Service.
“Of the 6.8 million Americans who served in the armed forces during the Korean War, only 145 received the Medal of Honor. More than two-thirds of the recipients were killed in action. Only nine are alive today. The Postal Service is issuing the stamps depicting the Medals of Honor with photographs of the living recipients on the stamp sheet as an appropriate way to recognize the living while still paying respect to all 145 recipients whose names are included in the Medal of Honor: Korean War Forever stamp prestige folio,” the release states.
While West is not depicted on an actual postage stamp, a photo from his days as a military man is included on the portfolio cover for the stamp collection, along with fellow Medal of Honor recipients Hector A. Cafferata Jr. of Venice, Fla.; William R. Charette of Lake Wales, Fla.; Duane E. Dewey of Irons, Mich.; Rodolfo P. Hernandez of Fayetteville, N.C.; Thomas Jerome Hudner Jr. of Concord, Mass.; Einar H. Ingman Jr. of Irma, Wis.; Hiroshi H. Miyamura of Gallup, N.M.; Ola L. Mize of Gadsden, Ala.; Ronald E. Rosser of Roseville, Ohio; Tibor Rubin of Garden Grove, Calif.; Robert E. Simanek of Farmington Hills, Mich.; and James L. Stone of Arlington, Texas.
“Sadly, William R. Charette, James L. Stone, Rodolfo P. Hernandez and Ola L. Mize died before the stamps could be issued. Their photographs are still included as they were alive at the time of the stamp proposal,” according to the USPS statement.
“We are going to have some cake and light refreshments. We hope to make it a nice event,” Thomas said.
Saturday’s dedication will also include the opportunity for a special cancellation, Thomas said, with a Korean War stamp with the Wurtland address and ZIP code approved especially for the occasion.
The family of Jack Collier, a Worthington resident who earned a posthumous Medal of Honor after he was killed in action after throwing himself on a grenade to save the lives of others in his unit, will also be honored during the event.