PALISADE -- Medals awarded to Richard Cook during the Korean War just never caught up with him -- until now.
Thanks to the efforts of Chuck Gorham, his cousin's husband, those medals were awarded at a ceremony Oct. 5 at the Palisade Community Center.
Gorham, past commander of VFW Post 1721, learned of the oversight about three years ago. With assistance from one of his daughters, Gorham was able to acquire the medals Cook should have received 50 years ago.
One of the medals was the Purple Heart, awarded for wounds received during the Korean War.
Richard Cook, of the Aitkin area, recently received medals awarded to him during the Korean War, including the Purple Heart. The medals finally were delivered to Cook with the help of his cousin's husband, Chuck Gorham.
"They just never caught up with him," Gorham said.
Cook's military career was brief -- but decisive.
Cook was born in his grandparents' log house in Waukenabo Township, where his grandmother served as midwife. His mother died in 1941; his father remarried and moved the family to Morrison Township. Cook quit school after eighth grade and worked odd jobs.
He enlisted in the Army on Sept. 29, 1949, at age 17. After basic training in Kansas, he was sent to Fort Carson, Colo., for more training.
"We were headed for Japan when the Korean War broke out," said Cook.
The stay in Japan was short and Cook joined the 1st Cavalry Division as it headed for Korea. It arrived in time to fight a delaying action against the North Korean invasion of the south on July 4, 1950. United Nations forces were being pushed south on the Korean Peninsula and were establishing a defensive position at the Pusan/Naktong perimeter.
On Sept. 8, 1950, Cook's platoon was sent out on machine gun patrol to probe the enemy strengths. They were met with ferocious and unexpected resistance. Cook was hit in the shoulder with shrapnel.
There was no rest for the weary, nor the wounded. Cook had to walk back to the bivouac area. When he reached a field near the area, he must have blacked out, as his next recollection was two days later in a field hospital.
After a week in a hospital in Japan, he was flown to the United States to Fitzsimmons Army Hospital, Denver, Colo. He recuperated there until June 1951, when he was discharged with a 70 percent disability.
Cook returned to the Aitkin area and married Rosemary Thorne in 1955. They had four children. Cook operated a dairy farm from 1962-85. His wife died last March.
In the last few years, Cook has been a truck driver and worked several other jobs.
Arthritis in his shoulder and limited movement in his arm will be constant reminders of a war 50 years ago.
Incidentally, Seoul was liberated on Sept. 18, 1950 -- 10 days after Cook was wounded. By Nov. 1, everyone who served with Cook in Easy Company had been killed or wounded.
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