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Korean War veterans seek fellow Utah vets to honor with medal

By Alex Cabrero | Posted - Nov 10th, 2013 @ 10:53pm

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OGDEN — It's a good thing John Cole has broad shoulders.

Otherwise he might not have any room on his old Marines uniform for all his medals.

"They're a token of appreciation for the efforts," Cole said.

Cole served with the 1st Marine Division during the Korean War.

Most of his medals are from the battlefield and are accompanied by words like "valor," "courage," and "bravery."

However, the medal hanging from his neck during a Veterans Day parade in Ogden Saturday afternoon came with the words "thank you."

"The South Korean government furnished this medal for the Korean veterans," Cole said. "In July of this year, I got to hear a young man from South Korea in Washington, D.C. give a little talk, and he was a young boy who was part of 100,000 that came out of North Korea."

Cole said the man gave him several medals from the South Korean government to give to other Korean War veterans.

My goal is to be able to get all the Utah Korean War veterans this medal.

–John Cole

Cole feels it's South Korea's way of saying thank you to American military members who helped them during the Korean War.

"My goal is to be able to get all the Utah Korean War veterans this medal," says Cole. "They just have to contact me and have a copy of their military records to show they were in the active military during the Korean War."

The ribbon holding the medal features the flags of countries that fought for South Korea.

"The medal itself was made out of barbed wire from the 38th parallel, and the steel company that made the medal changes the wire, took the wire, melted it down, and made these medals," Cole said.

"They are a very grateful nation. They have never forgotten us," said Jay Wells, who is the finance officer for the Military Order of the Purple Heart.

[South Korea is] a very grateful nation. They have never forgotten us.

–Jay Wells

Wells is helping Cole find Utah Korean War veterans.

"It should have never taken this long to come, but I'm grateful it did," Wells said. "The medal represents to them that the people they saved in South Korea, the ones they evacuated, have been able to build their country back up to what it is now. It's called the 'forgotten war.' That's why it's important they get this," Cole said.

To get in touch with John Cole, call 801-690-6837. To contact Jay Wells, email


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