Thursday 30 March 2017

Finally, Korean war veterans decorated

Allison Bray

Allison Bray

IT took almost 60 years, but Sean Taheny yesterday finally received his War Service Medal for valour during the Korean War.

The 79-year-old farmer from Gurteen, Co Sligo, was among 11 Irish veterans who served under the US flag, and were awarded the medal at a special ceremony at the American Embassy in Dublin yesterday.

The veterans, who range from 79 to 87, all lived in the US when they joined up or were drafted when the war broke out in 1950.

And they were honoured yesterday by US Ambassador Dan Rooney and Korean Ambassador Kim Chang-Yeob.

The veterans and hundreds of other Irish immigrants who served in the war as members of the United Nations Command were entitled to receive the honour presented by Korea to the UN Commander-in-Chief in 1951.

But the US army forbade the wearing of foreign medals on military uniforms until 1998.

Mr Taheny had emigrated to New York in 1949 and was working in a grocery shop in The Bronx when he was conscripted in 1951. The retired corporal fought with the 45th Infantry Division at the infamous battlefield known as 'Heartbreak Ridge' -- the site at which more than 3,700 American and French troops and 25,000 North Koreans and Chinese were killed

Michael McCormick (79) from Loughrea, Co Galway, was an apprentice carpenter in San Francisco when he got the draft notice.

He fought for the 25th Infantry Division for a year under appalling conditions.

And despite the long wait for his medal, he said he was very proud to be wearing it yesterday.

Irish Independent

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