Consul General Hyung-jong Lee presents the Ambassador for Peace Medal to Freeman Nickel for his service in the Korean War during at an event Monday morning at Northwest Church in Lynnwood. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Consul General Hyung-jong Lee presents the Ambassador for Peace Medal to Freeman Nickel for his service in the Korean War during at an event Monday morning at Northwest Church in Lynnwood. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Korea doesn’t forget US troops of that cold, ‘forgotten war’

Seattle’s South Korean Consulate presented 60 veterans with Ambassador for Peace Medals in Lynnwood.

LYNNWOOD — Wallace “Wally” Armstrong received a multicolored sash on his 87th birthday.

It was placed around his neck, as recognition for the sacrifices he made while fighting in the Korean War more than 65 years ago. A circular, gold pendant hangs from the ribbon.

The Monroe man and about 60 other veterans were given the Ambassador for Peace Medals on Monday in Lynnwood. They were presented by Consul General Hyung-jong Lee from the South Korean Consulate in Seattle.

The goal is to get the medal to as many people who fought in Korea as possible, said Lourdes “Alfie” Alvarado-Ramos, director of the Washington State Department of Veteran Affairs.

“They are fading away on us, and we want to make sure they don’t go to the everlasting post without receiving their credit,” she said.

The event in Lynnwood was one of many. Alvarado-Ramos hopes to get the word out so families can help claim the gift. The award is from the South Korean government to show appreciation for those who helped the country, she said.

“The Korean government has never forgotten,” she said. “It’s important for us to bring this element of recognition and closure to people who gave so much in such inhospitable environments: Cold and dangerous.”

More than 5.7 million Americans served during the Korean War, which started in 1950 after communist North Korea invaded South Korea. During the next three years, 33,741 American troops were killed or reported missing in battle. The death toll of American forces inside and outside the war zone was 54,246.

The total number of deaths during the Korean War has been estimated at nearly 5 million. More than half were Korean civilians.

Armstrong was in the Army and stationed at an unoccupied women’s college in Seoul during the war. Wayne Rodland was there with him, but neither of them knew it. The pair even ate in the same mess hall. Rodland, 87, was in the Air Force.

Armstrong has always lived in Monroe. His family has been there since the 1880s.

Rodland grew up in Lake Stevens. After Korea, he was stationed in Kansas. There he met his future wife, Margaret. The couple was engaged after a month of dating. They’ve been married 65 years.

The pair moved to Rodland’s home state and bought property in Monroe.

Armstrong’s dad was a logger, and ended up working on the Rodlands’ land. The older Armstrong introduced the two Korean War veterans.

“His dad was much nicer than him,” Rodland said.

“Who isn’t?” Armstrong replied, which made Rodland laugh.

The men have been friends for about 50 years.

Each has different memories of the war. They might want to forget some, but others are fond.

“Actually, we had a lot of fun in Korea,” Armstrong said.

He recalls being the only soldier with a truck. One of his companions wanted to travel halfway across the country to visit his brother.

“I said, ‘How is he going? He can’t have my truck,’ ” Armstrong said.

Armstrong got permission to drive him, and once word got out about four other guys wanted to tag along. Their trip lasted a week.

Rodland recalls Christmas 1951. It was night and their building was hit hard by enemy fire.

He also remembers a different time seeing rubble in the streets of Seoul, and how empty the city seemed.

“It was completely evacuated, there was nobody there,” he said. “I’m lucky to be here.”

To receive an Ambassador of Peace Medal, veterans must have served in Korea between June 25, 1950, and July 27, 1953. Those who were involved with the United Nations peacekeeping operations there until 1955 are also eligible. Call the Department of Veteran Affairs at 360-725-2200 for more information.

Stephanie Davey: 425-339-3192; sdavey Twitter: @stephrdavey.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Norton Playfield, a three-acre play field owned by Housing Hope on Thursday, July 23, 2020 in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Vote nears on Housing Hope’s Everett playfield project

The Everett City Council will deliberate Wednesday on the multi-family, supportive housing proposal.

Two teens shot near Mill Creek, taken to hospitals

The males, 17 and 18, were in a vehicle when two males approached and got into an altercation.

Driver hits, critically injures pedestrian in Everett

A driver hit a male who ran across the road Saturday night but stayed there and spoke with police.

Marysville School Districts' McKinney-Vento & Foster Care Liaison Deanna Bashour (left to right) Andrea Wyatt, Larisa Koenig and Rosemary Peterson on Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020 in Marysville, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
A new haven of help for homeless students in Marysville

“You name it, if they need it, we’ve got it,” says the Connections Center’s foster care liaison.

The USS Michael Monsoor has been a recent frequent visitor at Naval Station Everett. (Sue Misao / The Herald)
New Navy ship visits Everett base while training near Canada

The USS Michael Monsoor may visit a few more times before it leaves at the end of October.

Pedestrian seriously injured in hit-and-run in Everett

He was expected to survive. A 31-year-old woman was later booked into jail as a suspect.

Brett Gailey
Lake Stevens’ first full-time mayor will make $80,000 a year

The city council voted in September to convert the mayoral position from part time to full time.

Puddum the guinea pig in a Halloween costume. (Jessi Loerch)
Get your guinea pig costumed for trick-or-treat — if you can

Dressing up pets is no longer just for cats and dogs. Rodents can be mermaids and superheroes, too.

Most Read