Korean War veterans receive medals

Mirror photo by Sean Sauro / Robert DeSousa, a state director working under U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., honors a Korean War veteran with an Ambassador of Peace Medal at a Tuesday morning ceremony at Ebensburg’s VFW Post 4963.

EBENSBURG — A photo taken from high above the Korean Peninsula at night was referenced multiple times at a Tuesday morning ceremony.

The photo shows near perfect darkness within the borders of North Korea, while South Korea is illuminated.

“You can see evidence of cities and towns across South Korea, and it’s the evidence of a thriving nation,” Josh Hauser, Cambria County’s veterans affairs director, said, addressing Korean War veterans gathered inside VFW Post 4963 in Ebensburg.

“You are the reason that the citizens there in South Korea can not only achieve the goals they have for themselves but (that they) are permitted to even set the goals,” Hauser said.

Hauser was one of several area officials to speak at the ceremony, in which the gathered veterans were honored with Ambassador of Peace Medals.

The commemorative medals are distributed as an expression of appreciation from the South Korean government to American military members who served during the Korean War.

At the Tuesday ceremony set up by the office of U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., nearly 20 veterans were honored.

Robert DeSousa, a state director working under Toomey, said the senator’s office has distributed more than 550 of the medals across the state.

DeSousa also spoke about the photo taken from the sky, noting the people of South Korea will not forget the sacrifice of Americans who fought for them decades ago.

“That picture that he spoke about absolutely and graphically shows what these men did,” he said, speaking about the veterans’ work in Korea. “They are eternally grateful for the freedoms they have.”

The Korean War is sometimes referred to as the forgotten war, Hauser said, noting Tuesday’s award ceremony shows that name does not hold true locally.

“Certainly, in Cambria County, we are not going to forget,” Hauser said “You are the reason that entire nation has been free for the past 65 years. … This award is perhaps even more special because it comes from a nation whose existence you helped guarantee.”

DeSousa made his way across an aisle, placing medals around the necks of veterans and distributing medals to family members of deceased veterans who also were honored.

And Phillip Rice, a leader with the local VFW post, offered thanks to those veterans.

“Through their actions the expansion of the global communist threat was defeated, and we are able to meet here today in the enjoyment of our way of life,” Rice said. “We must never forget all that they gave to secure freedom and to defend democracy.”

Area veterans gathered Tuesday at VFW Post 4963 in Ebensburg, where they were honored with Ambassador of Peace Medals. Those honored were Bevon Anderson, William Baughman, Donald Bernard, Charles Cannin, Donald Gibson, John Golden, Vincent Keilman, Charles Keim (deceased), Joseph Kolar, Homer Leaper, Josephus Light (deceased), John Lody, William Hendrick, Stephen Magulick, Nick Molchan, Theodore Partsch, John Ryba and George Zuback (deceased).

Mirror Staff Writer Sean Sauro is at 946-7535.