Posted on

Elizabeth man gets Korean Service Medal

Elizabeth man gets Korean Service Medal
Elizabeth man gets Korean Service Medal
H. Ronald Stewart of Elizabeth receives the Korean Service Medal during a surprise service Thursday morning in the Harrison County Court House. (Photo by Ross Schulz)

An Army veteran left for dead in a foxhole by enemy soldiers was honored Thursday morning during a surprise presentation.
Herbert Ronald Stewart, 78, of Elizabeth arrived at the Harrison County Court House under the pretense of needing to sign some papers for Veterans Service Officer Marion Wallace. Instead, Stewart received the Korean Service Medal. Gathered for the ceremony was Indiana Ninth District Congressman Baron Hill, State Rep. Paul Robertson, other county officials and family members of Stewart’s.
The Korean Service Medal is for any veteran who was assigned, attached or mobilized to units operating in South Korea or Korean waters for at least 30 consecutive or 60 nonconsecutive days. The medal was created in honor of 50 years of freedom for Korea.
‘The people from South Korea were extremely grateful of the services of America,’ said Robertson.
Hill pinned the medal on Stewart.
‘We’re all gathered here for you,’ the congressman said to Stewart. ‘We’re here for one purpose only, to say thank you. It’s people like you that make our country what it is today.’
Stewart’s survival story was shared in the courthouse last week by his son, Herb. Some 55 years ago, the elder Stewart took cover in the nearest foxhole as enemy fired rained down upon him. The rest of his company had to retreat, and he was left alone. Stewart threw his remaining grenades and laid in the same position through the rest of the day and into the night. He figured he would use the cover of dark to try to return to his soldiers. His plan became impossible when enemy troops surrounded him. Stewart, who earned the rank of corporal, pretended to be dead, and the enemy soldiers could not tell he was alive because his hands were so cold from laying there all night. The soldiers used a bayonet to pry Stewart’s Elizabeth High School class ring off his hand. They took anything of value from Stewart. He had to play dead twice to avoid capture, before he made the trek through a minefield back to safety.
‘There are many stories like this; he is just one of them,’ said Herb Stewart.
‘This is what’s amazing,’ said Robertson. ‘We have people from Harrison County that did amazing things for our county and country.’
Stewart served on the front lines for 10 months in Korea. He has been awarded the Purple Heart for his injury sustained when the soldiers were cutting off his ring. A retired dairy farmer, Stewart lives on portion of the family farm in Elizabeth with his wife, Emma Lee, who has since bought her husband a new class ring. They have four children and five grandchildren.