SHERIDAN — Many refer to the Korean War as “The Forgotten War,” but recognition for a local veteran ensured he and his service to country will be remembered.
Sheridan resident Arthur “Joe” Allison received the Republic of Korea Ambassador for Peace Medal more than 60 years after serving in the Korean War.
Friends and family surprised Allison with a ceremony Friday at Kendrick Park.
“It was a big surprise,” Allison said. “They call it The Forgotten War, so you figure they’d forgotten everything after 40 years.”
Allison joined the U.S. Marines Corps at 19 years old, after the war started. He served the majority of his service in Korea with the Second Battalion, First Marine Division.
“I spent most of my time there trying to stay alive,” Allison said. Allison served four years in the Marines.
Allison’s stepdaughter, Sheila Hamilton, heard about the Republic of Korea Ambassador for Peace Medal several months ago from Allison’s neighbor. Hamilton thought her stepfather deserved the recognition.
“It just became a mission to make sure he got it,” Hamilton said.
To be eligible, the veterans must have served during the Korean War from June 25, 1950, to July 27, 1953. It is also available for the veterans who participated in United Nations peacekeeping operations until the end of 1955.
The process to receive the medal takes time and patience.
After locating Allison’s official service record, Hamilton and others filled out an application.
The application was then sent to the Wyoming Veterans Commission to be approved, then transferred to the South Korean consulate for further examination.
The entire process took several months, but Hamilton was thrilled when she received the news her step-father would be honored.
“I guess it was something I wanted to do for him after 31 years of being my step-dad,” Hamilton said while unsuccessfully fighting back tears.
Ron Wood, the Wyoming Veterans Commission commissioner who presented the medal to Allison, said the medal is relatively new. It’s granted by the Embassy of the Republic of Korea and intended to honor veterans who served in the Korean War.
“It’s really a way for (the South Korean government) to honor servicemen who served and protected their freedom and democracy and saved them from communism,” Wood said. “They are grateful, and this is just a token of their gratitude.”
While the armistice agreement ceased active combat in 1953 between China and the United Nations, South Korea refused to sign the agreement. Terms of the armistice included the creation of the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea.
Honoring veterans like Allison, Wood said, is a step toward honoring those who served in the conflict that claimed the lives of more than 53,000 American servicemen and women.
“You hear people talk all the time about Vietnam, you hear people talk about World War II, but you rarely hear anybody talk about the Korean War — even though it’s technically the longest war in our history,” Wood said.
A smiling and thrilled Allison said he was thankful for the effort his family and friends put in to making the recognition possible, but all at the ceremony Friday agreed it’s Allison himself who deserves to be thanked.
“He’s very deserving of this,” Hamilton said. “We are very excited that he got this.”