Republic of Korea presents medals to Korean War veterans in Utah

Women from the Republic of Korea present a Korean War Veteran with an award for his service to their country, Ivins, Utah, Oct. 16, 2014 | Photo by Holly Coombs, St. George News

IVINS — At the Southern Utah Veterans Home Thursday, Ivins City and City of St. George mayors Chris Hart and Jon Pike presented a proclamation declaring Oct. 16 as Korean Veterans Day and more than 100 Korean War veterans from Utah received an Ambassador of Freedom Medal from the Republic of Korea as a thank you for their service to the country.

L-R: City of St. George Mayor Jon Pike, Republic of Korea Consul General Dongman Han and Ivins City Mayor Chris Hart display a proclamation recognizing Korean Veteran Day, Ivins, Utah, Oct. 17, 2014 | Photo by Holly Coombs, St. George News
L-R: City of St. George Mayor Jon Pike, Republic of Korea Consul General Dongman Han and Ivins City Mayor Chris Hart display a proclamation recognizing Korean Veteran Day, Ivins, Utah, Oct. 17, 2014 | Photo by Holly Coombs, St. George News

Between 1950-1953, South Korea received help from 16 different countries, including the United States, in its defense against North Korea. At peak strength, the U.S. had 348,000 troops committed to Korea’s aid.

Members of the Republic of Korea, including Consul General Dongman Han, were present to recognize veterans in the St. George area.

“You look at these folks that have come here from halfway around the world to be a part of this and to recognize citizens in our state who have sacrificed much to help them through the conflict,” Hart said.

The Korean War was a terrible thing to see and deal with, he said, as it was the time his father served in the military.

“It is a remarkable thing in which (South Koreans) have recovered,” Hart said. “You look at the comparison between North and South Korea and the differences in prosperity and so forth certainly is an affirmation of the type of government that we have in common and the liberties that we share.”

The presence of a care facility and volunteers in Ivins was something Pike said is a great honor to have and a way to show veterans they are cared about and appreciated.

This year marks the second anniversary of the United States-Korea free trade agreement, entered into March 12, 2012. It was an agreement whereby the two countries support a strong, mutual advantageousness relationship with the Republic of Korea, Pike said. Presenting the proclamation to the Consul General, he said:

We, therefore, Chris Hart, mayor of Ivins City, and Jonathan T. Pike, mayor of the City of St. George Utah, do hearby proclaim today, October 16, 2014 as Korean War Veterans Day and encourage all public officials, educators, civic groups, and all of our citizens this day to honor those who served in the Korean War and present this proclamation as well as Mayor Hart to you.

Han shared his gratitude for the Korean War Veterans’ service.

“This will be forever in history,” Han said. “It will bring the future generations hope to continue to promote and support in this country and in Korea.”

Members of the Republic of Korea said thank you as they placed medals around veterans necks.

Col. Lloyd Laycook, 84, joined the military in 1950, serving in Germany, Vietnam and Korea. He said it was an honor to receive the medal from the Republic of Korea.

“It’s wonderful,” Laycook said. “I served 25 years. It’s wonderful to be part of freedoms, particularly, when you’ve helped another nation. I was a part of that in Korea and many other countries and it was truly an honor to be here.”

As he flew with many pilots in different countries during the service, Laycook said, he knew they were all putting their lives on the line for freedoms and liberty that the country now enjoys.

Korean War Veteran Edward Barberis sits with his wife, Ruth at the a presentation of the South Korean Ambassador for Peace Medal to Utah Korean War Veterans, Ivins, Utah, Oct. 16, 2014 | Photo by Holly Coombs, St. George News
Korean War Veteran Edward Barberis sits with his wife Ruth at presentation of the South Korean Ambassador for Peace Medal to Utah Korean War Veterans. Southern Utah Veterans Home, Ivins, Utah, Oct. 16, 2014 | Photo by Holly Coombs, St. George News

“We do anything we can to protect our freedoms and also help to provide those very, very wonderful benefits, that are God-given to any of the countries,” he said. “We even sacrifice for it.”

The first veteran to receive his medal during the ceremony was Edward Barberis and he was invited to speak on behalf of the other veterans.

“Do you remember the first time someone said to you, thank you for your service?” he said. “I do.”

Barberis shared the experience of a woman who, years ago, gave him a free haircut in appreciation for service he gave to her homeland of Seoul, Korea.

“She stood in front of me and said ‘thank you for your service to my country,’” he said. “It really hit what I was doing there.”

Barberis shared his appreciation to the members of the Republic of Korea for the medal he and all the veterans received.

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  • Rosie October 17, 2014 at 2:27 pm

    This is a sweet story. My brother, Lowell Stevens is a Korean war Vet too. We love Korea.

    • S October 18, 2014 at 5:43 am

      Anyone contacting the wives of the deceased? No! In fact, no one is even taking postings or contact info since the story was 2 days old. Not much of an effort or story. This is the only place news area that would even take the post. And honestly, my mother is 81 and she knows nothing of this and my sister just died so we don’t need the follow up (pun intended, since neither Korea, KSL or anyone did so except for a few in a small town).

  • S October 18, 2014 at 5:50 am

    I do remember as a child bandaging my fathers hands and feet due to “jungle rot” though. So, pretty sure he deserved the medal but even he would agree it’s a BS story and and save the environment the wasted “metal”. Spend more on the bandages and the next poor guys before they die. I could not even find the authors e mail address? Seriously drop it…my mom and family have more going on..Just had to say it out loud!

  • S October 18, 2014 at 6:07 am

    Actually Holly! How about you ask why we in Utah (a “red” state) and a “Pro Military” state” have no USO in our INTERNATIONAL airport? I and my father and 3 brothers all served honorably and yet there is not one place for a soldier to take off his boots between flights or deployments or get a glass of water or pack of saltines! In fact, he is more likely to get a smoke from a stranger at the curb than a cot for an hour! Sad! Pro military? Not really!

  • S October 18, 2014 at 6:18 am

    Dam, (spelled incorrectly on purpose)! Now I have to just send one more and just say it! We have the lowest spending in the country per student! We have No USO in our airports but we are pro military. Yet, we are voted the most “VAIN” city in America and that is based on plastic surgeries and money spent on cars and such! We beat out LA now yearly!!! And now we are known up north for having the worst air in the US and even China at times! I think all veterans would say stop! Take care of the kids, the air and what we are fighting for in the first place!!! Don’t believe me? Come with me to the VA hospital in SLC and put it to the test!

  • S October 18, 2014 at 6:22 am

    I bet any Vet would give you his prosthetic back if you promised to pay more in children’s education! It’s what we fought for! Not a sad story of a few medals awarded to the few notified!

  • S October 18, 2014 at 6:41 am

    One positive comment and I am not a fan of Delta, but they deserve kudos. They have been rumored to let a soldier hang out in there and have a soda and a chair in between flights. But again, It’s not what a soldier is looking for! They would rather have a 12′ by 12′ room where they can take off their socks and boots and let the dogs breath! Let them lay down and take off their boots! Save your metal and self congratulations!

  • Holger October 18, 2014 at 7:37 am

    Let me add my personal thanks to our Korean War veterans. My entire family was born in South Korea. Your service in keeping the South free has made our happiness possible. I may never have the opportunity to meet you or any other veteran in person, but want you to know of the good that has come from your sacrifices.

  • tiki October 18, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    my father was a Korean War veteran, and we never received any notice about this or I would have attended he has recently passed away and I would have loved to experience this for him

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