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Veteran gets belated medals

February 12, 2005|by CANDICE BOSELY

MARTINSBURG, W.VA.

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

It took Herman Cox 18 days on a troop ship to get to Korea in 1963, and 12 hours to return on a jet a year later.

"I kissed the runway and I'm not ashamed of that," Cox told U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., Friday morning when the congresswoman formally awarded Cox three medals for his service.

Cox received the Korean Service Defense Medal, a Good Conduct Medal and a National Defense Service Medal, as well as rifle expert and pistol marksmanship badges.

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The Korean Defense Service Medal was created last year. Its purpose is to give special recognition for the sacrifices and contributions made by military members who served in Korea after July 28, 1954 - a year after a cease-fire agreement brought the war to an end.

Cox, who arrived in Korea 10 years after the war ended, was stationed at Inchon, where he was a military police officer with the U.S. Army. He attained the rank of corporal.

His main task was to provide security for the port there, Cox said.

"I certainly appreciated it," Cox, 66, said of the medal presentations afterward. "A lot of veterans don't come forth and get their medals," including many who may not realize the opportunity is available.

Capito pinned one of the medals to Cox's shirt.

"I'm pleased and honored," she told him, adding that she worries veterans associated with the war in Korea sometimes are forgotten.

Cox said he is proud of his service and now is a member of the VFW who performs at veterans' funerals.

"We're in the greatest country in the world," Cox told Capito.

"We are, and we are because of people like you" and others who have served and continue to serve today, she replied.

Veterans interested in obtaining medals that are due to them may contact Capito's office. Allyson Gaither, who works in Capito's Martinsburg office, said veterans are asked to sign a release form. Their information then is forwarded to the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis.

Having a copy of the veteran's discharge paperwork - form DD214 - is helpful, but not required, Gaither said.

Along with presenting the medals to Cox, Capito also toured Ecolab in Martinsburg and went to Harpers Ferry, where she received a Friend of the National Parks award from the National Parks Conservation Association.

NPCA's Friend of the National Parks award was established in 1999 to track and publicize congressional members' votes on significant park issues.

The award recognizes members of Congress who supported conservation and national park issues during the 2002-03 congressional session.

Capito was chosen because of her support for several pieces of legislation, including one that helped construct new bicycle paths and trails in national parks and communities across the country.

"National parks like Harpers Ferry play a critical role in the Eastern Panhandle's economy and in our nation's history," Capito said in a press release. "By expanding the park, more land will be preserved and spared from development. Ensuring the vitality of Harpers Ferry continues to be a priority of my work in Congress."

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