By Laura Bollin
Oak Lawn veteran Gust Peterson received an unexpected Christmas present this year - three Korean war medals from the time he served as a wireman overseas.
U.S. Representative Dan Lipinski presented Army Cpl. Peterson with the medals at a ceremony Dec. 18. He received a Good Conduct medal and a Korean Defense Service medal from the Army and a Korean War Service medal from the Republic of Korea. He also received a letter of appreciation from the President of the Republic of Korea.
He began looking into receiving his medals after a friend from his church went to Lipinski's office and received his Good Conduct t medal, Peterson said.
"It felt great to be recognized," Peterson said. "I think we kind of forgot the people who were in Korea after Vietnam. I appreciated getting the medals."
Peterson served in Korea for 14 months in 1954-54. He didn't want to go in the beginning, but the experience turned out to be invaluable, he said.
"I'm glad I went there," Peterson said. "It was an experience to see another country and another world. It is a lot different than it is here."
He served as a wireman in the Army.
"I was with the signal corps," Peterson said. "Six or seven of us took care of the communications. We had phones we took care of, and we managed the radios, which was a 24-hour operation."
Peterson has lived in Oak Lawn for 58 years with his wife, Norma. They have four children and three grandchildren.
Peterson's niece has adopted two children from Korea, but he didn't accompany her on the trips.
"It has changed a lot in the last 60 years," Peterson said. "I have hundreds of pictures that show the time I had in Korea. Whenever we got slides, we would show them to the fellas in our tent. It was our recreation, like playing with baseball cards."
Lipinski said he was honored to give Peterson the medals.
"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."