Utah Korean War veterans get long-awaited medals
Standard-Examiner, Ogden, Utah
OGDEN — It’s often called “The Forgotten War” because so many of its veterans and its impact are overlooked. On Saturday morning, just a few of the many men who served during the conflict were honored with a long overdue medal in thanks for their service.
An award ceremony was held during a meeting of the Military Order of the Purple Heart at the George E. Wahlen Ogden Veterans Home.
John Cole, vice commander of the Ogden chapter, earlier this year attended an event in Washington to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean War. More than 1,500 veterans there were honored with special medals, crafted by the people of South Korea and made from the recycled barbed wire of the infamous Korean Demilitarized Zone.
Cole wanted the veterans from Utah to receive these medals also, and, through several contacts, was able to obtain 10 to give to friends back home.
Four men who fought in the Battle of Chosin Reservoir received the medals on Saturday: Robert Frew, Charlie Pharr, Robert F. Wahlen and Seward Nichols.
“I wish it was more,” Cole said as he passed out the medals, “because the world really doesn’t know what these veterans went through.”
Cole said to finally receive recognition through these medals was a great honor.
Now he is working to make sure all Korean veterans in Utah are honored with these medals. Thirty more veterans reside at the center in Ogden, and even more around the state.
The only problem being that there are no more to give out.
However, Cole, along with Jay Wells, the finance officer for the chapter, want to work with Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, to help obtain more medals from South Korea and make sure more men are recognized for the impact they made 60 years ago.
“I served in Korea years after you guys and it is unrecognizable from the country you liberated years ago, which is good,” said State Officer for the Utah Department of Veterans Affairs Kim Wixon. “If it weren’t for you, there wouldn’t be a South Korea today.”
He said veterans are encouraged to return to South Korea because its people are very thankful for the service American soldiers did for their country.
Cole said South Korean veterans will many times pay for American vets to come visit.
Wixon also presented commemorative coins to all the Korean veterans in attendance.
The Campaign of Chosin Reservoir was a critical battle that pitted a single division of Marines against a larger Chinese force, Cole said.
Surrounded and outnumbered 20-1, the Allied forces suffered thousands of casualties to enemy firepower and subzero temperatures, but were successful in helping nearly 100,000 Korean civilians flee to the south.
Cole and Wells were successful in erecting a Korean War veterans memorial at the Ogden home and are still working to expand it and make sure all those who served are properly recognized.
“The nation is still unaware of these men’s ultimate sacrifice,” said Cole, who wants the American public to remember the Forgotten War.
Andreas Rivera at 801-625-4227, firstname.lastname@example.org