By Linda Scherer
WINSTED, MN Two men returned to Winsted following two different wars. Both men felt lucky to be returning home from the battlefield and were ready to get on with their lives.
They did not expect any kind of recognition or thank you for serving their country. Actually, both men wanted to forget the war had ever happened.
But when recognition came many, many years later, each of the men was honored and appreciative of the gesture.
Paul Paradis of Winsted served in the Army in Korea during the Korean War.
On the 50th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean war, the president of the Republic of Korea, Kim Dae-jung, sent a letter and medal to every American veteran of the war telling them of his “deepest gratitude for their noble contribution to the efforts to safeguard the Republic of Korea and uphold liberal democracy around the world.”
Paradis was grateful to receive the letter and medal, which are framed and matted and hung in a place of honor in his home.
“They’re one of the few countries that appreciated what we did for them,” Paradis said. “One of our greatest allies in southeast Asia right now is South Korea because of what we did for them.”
Another veteran, Dave Paschke returned home to Winsted in 1971 after he served in the Army in Vietnam during the Vietnam War.
Almost 40 years later, Paschke’s Black Horse regiment received a presidential citation ribbon for “extraordinary heroism and conspicuous gallantry against an armed enemy” during what is called the Anonymous Battle that took place March 26, 1970.
It is the highest award a unit can receive.
Paschke was one of the approximately 100 soldiers of Troop A, 1st Squadron, 11th Armored Calvary Regiment, War Zone C, Republic of Vietnam to be recognized for volunteering to save the lives of 100 American infantrymen surrounded by the enemy and running low on ammunition and water.
Paschke received his award Oct. 20 at the Pentagon, and was invited to the White House Rose Garden to see President Obama.
He was honored by the entire experience, having served in a war that was considered very unpopular when he first returned home.
“This award isn’t just for us, it is not just for me,” Paschke said. “I think it is for other Vietnam veterans and for anybody who puts on a uniform. I think, even the policemen or firemen. Anybody who serves our country to keep it safe this award is for them.”
In honor of Veterans Day, read both Paradis’ and Paschke’s individual stories click here for Paradis and click here for Paschke.