HOT SPRINGS — Seven Michael J. Fitzmaurice State Veterans Home residents – Frank Bryant, Arthur Has No Horse, Paul Hofwolt, Clarence Jerke, Orville Oster, Fred Riedel and Earl Weiss – were honored at a special ceremony that took place simultaneously at the State Home and in the Capitol Rotunda in Pierre, Tuesday afternoon, Jan. 12.
The seven State Home men, all Korean conflict veterans, received a sash and a peace medal from the Republic of Korea as a token honoring their service and sacrifices during the Korean conflict.
At the same time – and this was being broadcast live, via South Dakota Public Broadcasting, on the huge television screen in the new wing of the State Home Auditorium — a number of Korean-era veterans received the same medal and sash in Pierre.
The “Ambassador for Peace” medal is bestowed as an expression of appreciation for those who served in Korea’s land, air and sea conflict from June 25, 1950 through Oct. 25, 1954.
The events were the culmination of an effort begun in 2010 – the 60th anniversary of the Korean conflict – according to Sungchoon Park, Minister of Patriots Veterans Affairs with the Republic of Korea (South Korea), who presented the medals and sashes to the veterans in Pierre and spoke for his nation.
Park, speaking through an interpreter, called the Korean conflict “a forgotten war” – but not for South Koreans.
He talked about the outbreak of the war: How Communist forces from North Korea (backed by both the Soviet Union and Chinese communists) invaded South Korea late in June of 1950, and how the United Nations (UN) got involved in settling the conflict, with 21 nations providing supplies and nearly 2 million troops to fight the invasion.