MILTON — Moments before receiving a special honor, Richard Winter stood quietly in front of Milton American Legion Post 71 reflecting on his time in the service and the importance of veterans becoming involved with organizations like the American Legion.
Winter, chairman of Post 71’s board of trustees, was one of two individuals who on Thursday were presented with the Korean Ambassador of Peace Medal by Congressman Fred Keller (R-Pa. 12). The other medal was presented posthumously to James Tuner, whose daughter Jill Waltman accepted the honor.
According to information provided by Keller’s office, the medal is from the Embassy of the Republic of Korea for veterans who served in the Korean War.
Winter, who served three years in the United States Marine Corps, believes few veterans know of the medal, which he said was made available while the late George H.W. Bush was president in the early 1990s.
Winter, who lives in Watsontown, only recently learned of the medal through a veterans magazine and applied to receive the honor.
Winter noted that he doesn’t often speak about his time on the ground in Korea.
“War is not a pleasant thing,” he said. “Nobody wants to be in a war.”
He does advocate for fellow veterans to become involved in service organizations.
“I think everybody that was in the service should belong to the American Legion, the VFW, the 40&8,” he said. “They do more for veterans than everybody else put together. If you’re a veteran, you should join.”
Both Winter and Waltman, who lives in Milton, expressed gratitude for the medal presentation.
Waltman has few memories of her father, who died of injuries sustained while on the ground in Korea when she was just 5 years old.
Waltman said her father served in the U.S. Army and died Aug. 18, 1951.
“He was shot in the back,” Waltman said, of Turner. “Even though he was mortally wounded he still threw a grenade to take out the area where the fire was coming from.
“He battled for life for 83 days,” she recalled. “He had 16 holes in his intestines.”
Waltman does recall referring to her father as “Daddy Gov.”
“He was the oldest soldier in his unit,” she said. “He was 29 when he passed away.”
Because he was older than his fellow soldiers, Waltman said his fellow soldiers called him “the governor.” She heard this and developed her own nickname for her father.
Turner’s grandson Gregory Miller, a U.S. Army veteran who served in Desert Storm, also attended the ceremony. Although he never knew his grandfather, he was inspired after hearing stories of him.
“He was my inspiration to join the military,” Miller said. “This (medal presentation) makes me proud. It makes me proud with all the medals he received.”
During his remarks while presenting the medals, Keller offered thanks to veterans and praised the American Legion for its contributions to veterans causes.