Korean War vets eligible for medals

RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas – There are more than 1.7 million veterans still eligible for the Korean War Service Medal, including the next of kin of deceased veterans.

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Korean War, the Republic of Korea issued a medal to pay tribute to the U.S. Korean War veterans for their historic endeavors to preserve freedom of the Korea and the free world.

The Department of Defense approved the acceptance and wear of the medal Aug. 20, 1999.

“Initially, we were inundated with requests,” said Master Sgt. Alberto Salinas, the Air Force’s chief of the awards and decoration section. “In the first five months, 60,000 letters flooded in.”

Since then, Air Force officials distributed more than 83,000 Korean War Service medals to veterans from every branch of military service.

The initial 750 requests a day has slowed to about 600.

The Air Force provides the medal at no cost, on a first-come, first-served basis, to veterans who meet the criteria and apply with appropriate documentation.

Qualifications. To qualify for the medal, the veteran must meet the following criteria:

* Served in Korea, its territorial waters or airspace between June 25, 1950, to July 27, 1953, for 30 consecutive days or 60 nonconsecutive days; or

* Served as a crew member of aircraft in aerial flight over Korea participating in actual combat operations, or in support of combat operations.

Veterans who served in Japan, Guam, the Philippines or other countries are not eligible.

Veterans only need to send copies of documents such as Department of Defense Form 214s to newspaper articles pinpointing the requester’s location during the war.

The Korean War medal was initially offered by the Republic of Korea to U.S. Korean War veterans more than 50 years ago, but was never issued because of a law prohibiting the military from wearing medals issued by foreign governments. Congress changed the law in 1954, but by then most of the service members eligible for the medal had returned home.

To learn more. Additional information on how to apply for the medal can be found by contacting the Air Force Personnel Center at 800-558-1404. People may also write to: HQ AFPC/DPPPRA, 550 C Street West, Suite 12, Randolph Air Force Base, TX 78150-4714 or visit the AFPC Web site at www.afpc.randolph.af.mil/awards/.

General information on the medal can also be found by calling 703-604-0831.

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