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Local Korean War Vet Finally Receives Medals After 60 Years

By Lorraine Swanson
Evergreen Park Patch

Almost 60 years after serving in the Korean War, Oak Lawn veteran Gust Peterson finally got his Army Good Conduct Medal.

“The Good Conduct Medal was just something anybody who’s been away for awhile should receive,” Peterson said, who served in the U.S. Army in 1953 and 1954. “Part of the reason we never got the Good Conduct Medal was because there was no ceremony in Korea. We were just glad to get it over with and get home.”

Peterson was a 21-year-old newlywed when he was drafted into the Army in 1952. Just before he left to go overseas to Korea in January 1953, he learned that his wife, Norma, was pregnant with the first of their four children.

Achieving the rank of corporal, Peterson provided ground support to aircraft and was in the signal corps while serving in Korea.

As the family story goes, Norma showed a Gust’s picture to their daughter, Linda, every night before Linda was tucked into bed. When Gust returned home from the war, Linda, a year old, called him “Daddy” when he walked through the door.

“Here I am 58 years later,” Linda Carlson laughed.

Peterson, 81, began his pursuit to recover the medals four years ago, after a man in his church had acquired his long-lost Good Conduct Medal.

"It's been a four-year scourge," said Peterson, a man of few words.

Eventually, he contacted Congressman Dan Lipinski’s (D-IL) office for help in obtaining the medals he had earned for his service in the Korean War.

In a ceremony at Lipinski’s district office in Garfield Ridge last month and surrounded by his family, the congressman pinned the Army Good Conduct Medal on Peterson.

In addition to the Army Good Conduct Medal recognizing exemplary conduct, efficiency, and fidelity during his period of service, the Oak Lawn man belatedly received the Korean Defense Service Medal from the U.S. Army and the Korean War Service Medal from the Republic of Korea. Peterson also was given a letter of appreciation from the President of the Republic of Korea.

"I'm honored to participate in this important day for Cpl. Peterson and his family, and proud that my office was able to get him the medals he earned but never received," Lipinski said. "Our veterans have fought valiantly for our nation. It is a top priority of mine that they receive the proper recognition for the sacrifices they have made on our behalf."