U.S. Army Korean Defense veteran presented with missing medals

It took nearly 60 years, but Richard “RC” Sample finally received his missing medals for his service in South Korea.

Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 6785 out of Kent, presented Sample, an U.S. Army Korea Defense veteran, with the Army Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal and the Korea Defense Medal.

Sample was drafted into the U.S. Army in September 1963 and served in 1st Cavalry Division then assigned in the Republic of South Korea. The U.S. Forces Korea has been present in South Korea since 1957 following the Korean War in 1950 to 1953 between North Korea and South Korea.

Walt Tanimoto, the post commander of VFW Post 6785, surprised Sample last month at Tahoma National Cemetery in Kent with the honors.

“When I presented RC with his missing medals he was surprised and happy,” Tanimoto said. “He did not know I was going to present the awards to him.”

Tanimoto said many veterans of this and other conflicts have stories of service that can’t be replaced. Some have earned commendations they mention only in passing or ignore out of modesty. Much is locked away alongside painful memories.

“As a company commander one of our responsibilities is to ensure soldiers are recognized and awarded for their service before they leave,” Tanimoto said. “When I found out RC did not receive awards due to him from his time in Korea, I took some time to correct a wrong, and recognize a long standing member of the VFW for his service and dedication to help veterans.”

Sample, 82, and a past post commander, thanked Tanimoto and the VFW for presenting him with his missing awards.

Most would have just told me to write back to the Department of Defense or to buy my own missing awards, but you took it upon yourself to fix what the Army did not give me when I left Korea, Sample said to Tanimoto.

“Thank you for the surprise and cheering up an old soldier,” he said.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is the nation’s largest and oldest major war veterans organization. Founded in 1899, the congressionally chartered VFW is comprised entirely of eligible veterans and military service members from the active, Guard and Reserve forces. With more than 1.5 million VFW and Auxiliary members in nearly 6,000 posts worldwide, the nonprofit veterans service organization is dedicated to veterans’ service, legislative advocacy and military and community service programs.