By Amaris Castillo
Korean War veterans in Dracut and other Lowell-area communities are wanted.
Dracut Veterans Services Officer Jeffrey Hollett has launched a quest to find local men and women who served in the war to honor them with the Korean Ambassador for Peace Medal, part of a partnership between the Massachusetts Department of Veterans Services and the Consulate of the Republic of Korea.
The Ambassador for Peace Medal is an expression of appreciation from the Korean government to American service men and women who served in the Korean War, according to the Massachusetts government website.
To be eligible, a veteran must have served during the Korean War, from June 25, 1950, to July 27, 1953. The award is also available for veterans who have participated in United Nations peacekeeping operations until the end of 1955, according to a flier. The commemorative medals may be awarded posthumously.
Hollett said he helped track down a few Korean War veterans in his last position before starting his new job in Dracut. His search for veterans begins here but also stretches beyond to other Greater Lowell communities.
"Korean War veterans are mostly in their 80s and 90s now," Hollett said recently while seated in his office. "In a way, this is going to be a little bit more challenging because I don't think I'm going to be able to find them here in Dracut alone. That's important to us."
The Korean War is also known as the Forgotten War, Hollett said.
"But the fact is, you take any two soldiers and you put them in any conflict during any one of those wars and, standing right beside each other, their perception and their experiences are also vastly different," he said. "That's because we're human, but it's that same humanity between us veterans that keeps us so connected."
Hollett hopes to host a ceremony for Korean War veterans in Dracut next summer.
Town Manager Jim Duggan said Hollett presented him with the idea of the effort and ceremony.
"I thought it was a great idea, and I support the efforts completely," Duggan said. "I love when town employees think outside the box and they take initiative to improve public service to the residents and the businesses in the community. We'll continue to support those efforts."
If you are a local Korean War veteran or know one, visit Hollett at his office at 951 Mammoth Road, Dracut, or call him at 978-455-1349. The highest priority for presenting the medal is given to veterans who are still living.
Follow Amaris Castillo on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.