Korean veterans honored in special ceremony

by marlys good

Helmuth Lassle, Ray Valasek, Roy Clifton, John Oliver and Bill Shumway of Greybull, and Riki Shimigaki and Earl Goeden of Basin, were among the Korean War veterans who received Ambassador for Peace Medals in a special ceremony held at the Lander Community and Convention Center on June 30. Guy Henderson of Greybull was unable to attend.

The medals were presented to the veterans by Consul General Shin from the Republic of Korea Consulate in San Francisco and Wyoming Governor Matt Mead.

The Korean War is often called “The Forgotten War,” mainly because it happened so soon after World War II, America’s biggest war, and Vietnam, its longest war. Plus, the fact that the war didn’t end conclusively, technically, at all, meant that it didn’t register the same way in the minds of Americans as other wars.

Consul Shin, giving special thanks to the veterans, said, “I refuse to accept that this conflict is the ‘Forgotten War.’ Because of you we have gone from an aid-seeking to an aid-giving nation. We join with United States in offering assistance where it is needed to make people stronger, more stable, and better world citizens. Because of you, our countries enjoy a special bond that is unique among all nations.”

Oliver said he had been reluctant to attend the special ceremony but was encouraged to do so by his daughter, Theresa Howe, who accompanied him to Lander. Oliver said, “It was great; the way it was set up, it went so smooth. The Consul himself put the medal around our necks, and said something personal to each one of us as he did so. I’m glad I went.”

Valasek said, “It was good to be recognized.” But more important, he said the medals “actually represent the people of Korea. They said, ‘You will always be our hero.’” Those words, who and where they came from, made it very special, he said.

Ken Persson Sr. of the American Legion Don Strough Post 33, said, “This has been a long process but with the guidance and help of the Republic of Korea, the Wyoming Veterans Commission, the state of Wyoming and Veteran Service Organizations from the state, we have arrived.”