|By Angela Costanzi, Staff Intern|
WEST SPRINGFIELD On July 27, emotional Korean War veterans along with family and friends, which included over 300 people, gathered at the Agawam/ West Springfield Elks Pavilion to honor and remember all those who served in the Korean War.
The ceremony began with jets flying over head and a presentation of colors by the United States Marine Corps followed by a speech by Reverend Lee. Lee a Korean native, was there to thank the veterans for all they had done for her country, and help honor them on the 54th anniversary of the war ending.
As the ceremony continued the honored guest, Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Captain Thomas Hudner Jr., United States Korean War veteran was introduced and presented with his medal.
After short speeches of gratitude by people including Anthony Verga, State Representative and United States Army Korean War veteran, and State Representative James Welch, and West Springfield Mayor Edward Gibson, citations were presented honoring the veterans for the time they served for their country.
The veterans being honored were presented with service flags along with a plaque displaying their name and a map of current-day Korea.
"They feel they are being honored and recognized [because of the ceremony]," James Berrelli Jr., a Vietnam veteran said. He has organized the recognition ceremony honoring different veterans every year.
"I'm always delighted to be with a group of veterans, especially when they're being honored by the populous," Hudner said.
While the ceremony was meant to bring honor and recognition to the veterans, the men and women who served couldn't help but remember the bad times that came with the war.
"[The ceremony] brings back a lot of good memories and bad memories, I came back, [but] a few of my buddies didn't," William Verhagen, an Air Force veteran said.
During the ceremony the veterans along with their friends and family could take time to honor not only the veterans that attended the ceremony but also the veterans that never returned from the battle field.
"[The veterans are] unsung heroes, a lot of people gave up their lives," said Theodore Tenzar, a World War II veteran who lost his brother Henry Tenzar in the Korean War.
While ceremonies like this are appreciated by the veterans some believe they are still in a constant battle to achieve the honor they have earned.
"We have to do our own fighting," Walter Pietras, a Korean War veteran said.
Pietras believes that only 75 percent of society appreciates veterans and what they have given up for their country.
The other 25 percent, which he believes includes much of the government, lacks in giving the veterans what they have earned.
"I've been fighting for medical papers," Pietras said. "It's a crying shame."
While some veterans believe they are still fighting for recognition there is always hope of more for the future.
"The more visibility and recognition the vets get the more the civilian populous can appreciate what efforts they [the veterans] made," Hudner said.
The veterans honored included Dominic Battista, U.S. Marine Corps; Ronald Camp, U.S. Navy; Dr. Frederick Conlin Jr., U.S. Marine Corps; James Conlin, U.S. Navy; Joseph Cote, U.S. Navy; Joseph Cotton, U.S. Army; Gerald DeGray, U.S. Army; George Dempsey, U.S. Navy; Robert DeRaleau, U.S. Army; J. Anthony DiGiore, U.S. Army; Henry Dobosz, U.S. Army; Earl Fredette, U.S. Marine Corps; James Gamble Jr., U.S. Marine Corps; Michael Gureckis, U.S. Air Force; Neil Hall, U.S. Army; Frederick Hathaway, U.S. Marine Corps; Merlin Johnson, U.S. Army (posthumously); Eugene King, U.S. Navy; Frank Kozikowski, U.S. Army; Richard Kulig, U.S. Marine Corps; Neita Marshman, U.S. Army; Albert Medvetsky, U.S. Navy; Gino Mirolli, U.S. Army; John Morris, U.S. Army; Vincent Napolitan, U.S. Army; Edwin Orwat, U.S. Marine Corps; Robert Ouimette, U.S. Air Force; Robert Parsons, U.S. Air Force; Anthony Ravosa, U.S. Army; Dorothy Richard, U.S. Air Force; John Rolandini, U.S. Army; Paul Sanborn, U.S. Army; Charles Sauter, U.S. Navy; Frederick Shannon, U.S. Marine Corps; Dr. Cyril Shea, U.S. Navy; William Spring, U.S. Navy; David Strain, U.S. Air Force; Robert Sullivan, U.S. Navy; Roger Sullivan, U.S. Army; Raymond Sweeney, U.S. Marine Corps; Albert Swiork, U.S. Navy; Edward Sypek, U.S. Navy; Henry Tenzar, U.S. Army (posthumously); Robert Tonelli, U.S. Army; Charles Vardakis, U.S. Army; William Verhagen, U.S. Air Force; Peter Zucco, U.S. Air Force.