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The Villages
Thursday, June 30, 2022

Korean War veterans honored with Ambassador for Peace Medal in local ceremony

Korean War veterans on Wednesday received the Ambassador for Peace Medal from the Korean government in appreciation of their service at American Legion Post 347 in Lady Lake.

To be eligible for this award, veterans must have served during the Korean War from June 25, 1950, to July 27, 1953. This medal can also be available for the veterans who have participated in United Nations peacekeeping operations until the end of 1955. If the person has passed away, the medal can be awarded posthumously and given to the veteran’s family members or close friend.

Richard Baga received the Ambassador for Peace Medal.
Richard Baga received the Ambassador for Peace Medal.

Board member of the Korean War Veterans in The Villages William McLaughlin helped with getting these awards for these soldiers. He said it felt wonderful to honor these veterans and pay tribute to “all these sacrifices these people went through during the war.”

South Korea is a free and democratic country because of the work of these men, McLaughlin said.

The Korean War veterans were honored Wednesday at the American Legion in Lady Lake
The Korean War veterans were honored Wednesday at the American Legion in Lady Lake.

Representatives of the Republic of Korea Consulate in Atlanta, Ga., Jonghee Choi and Jinkyoung Choi, presented the medals to the recipients on behalf of their brave service.

Lesly Montalvo Lopez
Lesly Montalvo-Lopez received her father’s medal.

Richard Baga, a recipient who was a staff sergeant in the Army infantry said he felt very proud to receive this medal. However, he reflected that the conflict was “very tragic” and that his division lost “a lot of good men.”

Another recipient was Pedro Montalvo whose daughter Lesly Montalvo-Lopez received the medal on his behalf. Her father served in the 65th Infantry Regiment, nicknamed “The Borinqueneers” who were the only the only all-Hispanic unit that hailed mostly from Puerto Rico. Montalvo-Lopez said it was “amazing” to honor her father.

“I wish that he was here, he would love it, the attention and the camaraderie with all the soldiers,” she said.

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