Republic of Korea representatives visit Ivins veterans home, name Korean War veterans ‘Ambassadors of Peace’

Korean War veterans were named Ambassadors of Peace at a ceremony at the Southern Utah Veterans Home in Ivins, Utah, June 12, 2018 | Photo by Breanna Sutherland, St. George News

IVINS –  In a simple but touching ceremony held June 12 at the Southern Utah Veterans Home in Ivins, 36 Southern Utah veterans of the brief yet deadly Korean War conflict were named “Ambassadors of Peace” by visiting and local representatives of the Republic of Korea.

Jenny Lee, chairwoman of the Korean Association of South Utah and an advisor to the Denver chapter of the National Unification Advisory Council, presents a commemorative medal to a Korean War veteran naming him an Ambassador of Peace, Ivins, Utah, June 12, 2018 | Photo by Breanna Southerland, St. George News

Consul General Joon-Yong Park traveled to Ivins from his San Francisco, California, office, where he represents and works to resolve issues of concern to Koreans living in the western United States. He noted by proclamation the “everlasting gratitude of the people of the Republic of Korea for the service you gave in restoring and preserving our freedom … and your boundless sacrifices in helping us reestablish our Free Nation.”

Following remarks to veterans and family members, Park joined members of the Korean Association of South Utah and the Denver chapter of the National Unification Advisory Council in distributing commemorative medals to each veteran.

The medals – declaring to each recipient “You will always be our hero” – were fashioned from barbed wire used to protect the famous demilitarized zone, when an estimated 75,000 soldiers from the North Korean People’s Army poured across the 38th parallel dividing the Soviet-backed Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the north and the pro-Western Republic of Korea to the south.

Two of the veterans spoke to St. George News about their experience in the war.

Dick Olson proudly holds his Ambassador of Peace medal awarded to him at the Southern Utah Veterans Home in Ivins, Utah, June 18, 2018 | Photo by Ryan Rees, St. George News

Dick Olson, a Marine veteran, recalled how cold it was.

“We were in the far north, near the Manchurian border. It never got to zero (degrees). It was 30-40 below for four weeks,” he said. “We couldn’t even eat our C-rations because they were frozen.”

He said one thing they could eat was Tootsie Rolls.

“The code word for ammo for the artillery was ‘Tootsie Roll’ and someone started bringing actual Tootsie Rolls when they delivered the ammunition,” he said. “You could break them in half and they’d melt enough so you could eat them and get some food in you.”

Karl Naylor served in the U.S. Army the final two years of the war, 1952-53. He said he was delayed in joining because he was about to go on his mission to Canada for The Church of Jesus Christ Latter-Day Saints.

The Army waited until I got back but signed me up five days after I got home,” he said. “When I got back and told people about it (the war), they didn’t believe me. So, I just let my medals speak for me.”

Local historians report 667 Southern Utahns fought in Korea during this three-year conflict. All 667 safely returned to home and family following the undeclared war.

Written by LINDA SAPPINGTON. St. George News reporter Ryan Rees contributed to this report.

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1 Comment

  • hoaganp June 20, 2018 at 10:48 pm

    A very nice gesture by the Koreans!

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