Sunday 22 October 2017

Seán was a decorated hero of the Korean war

The late Sean Taheny
The late Sean Taheny

THE death has occurred of Seán Taheny, Mullaghroe, Gurteen, a Korean War veteran.

In 2010, Seán was presented with a war service medal for valour when a group of veterans were honoured by US Ambassador Dan Rooney and Korean Ambassador Kim Chang-Yeob at a ceremony in the American Embassy, Dublin.

Mr. Taheny had waited 60 years to receive the medal.

He emigrated to New York in 1949. He was working in a grocery shop in The Bronx when he was conscripted in November 1951.

Like many Irishmen, he found that the price of American citizenship was a draft card and the boat to Korea.

After only 16 weeks of basic training at Fort Dix in New Jersey, he found himself at the frontline.

The retired Corporal fought with the 45th Infantry Division under the U.S. flag at the infamous battlefield known as 'Heartbreak Ridge' – the site where more than 3,700 American and French troops and 25,000 North Koreans and Chinese were killed.

Among Seán's extraordinary momentos was a booklet of Christmas greetings from the People's Republic of China and an archetypal American sweetheart, fretting that her GI boyfriend will be killed.

They had been dropped over UN lines from a Chinese plane just before Christmas, 1952.

On that Christmas Day, the Chinese attacked Hill 812, where Corporal Taheny was stationed.

After his Platoon Sergeant was killed, he telephoned in artillery support and this action led to the US army successfully repelling the Chinese.

On other occasions he took part in intelligence and reconnaissance patrols behind communist lines.

Mr. Taheny was awarded a number of medals.

They include Two Bronze Stars, a Combat Infantry Badge and a UN medal.

The Korean War Service Medal is a decoration of South Korea and was first authorised by that country in December, 1950.

While a number of countries accepted the award, at the time of the Korean War Service Medal's presentation to UN troops, the United States declined to award the medal to US soldiers.

This was based on regulations of the time.

These curtailed the wearing of foreign decorations on US military uniforms.

In 1999, the South Korean Government proposed that the decoration by reactivated.

On August 20th of that year, Francis M. Rush Jr., Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army, authorised the Korean War Service Medal for distribution and wear by service members of the United States military.

When he received his Korean War medal in June, 2010, he told The Sligo Champion: "As long as I lived to see it, it's not so bad."

Mr. Taheny died suddenly on December 30th. He was in his early 80s. Removal took place from his daughter, Paula's residence, Mullaghmore, Gurteen, on New Year's Day for Mass of the Resurrection in St. Patrick's Church, Gurteen.

Burial took place in Gurteen Cemetery.

Mr. Taheny is survived by his wife, Madge; sons, Donald, Aidan and Shane; daughters, Paula, Caoimhe and Orla; brother, Junior, relatives and friends.