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Veterans honored by South Korea, local organization

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By Ian Neligh

Clear Creek veterans recently honored local Daryl Betts a month after he was recognized by the consul general of South Korea for his service in the Korean War.

Betts and other Korean War veterans from Colorado received the Ambassador for Peace Medal on Dec. 21 from the consulate, which represents South Korea, and Betts was recognized again by the Idaho Springs American Legion.

The Ambassador for Peace Medal is given by South Korea to U.S. soldiers who served in the Korean War.

While Betts doesn’t talk much about his time in Korea, his service to his country more than 60 years ago speaks loud and clear.

Troy Erickson, an Idaho Springs city council member and the county's veterans service officer, said veterans like Betts are proud and don't necessarily want to talk about their actions while serving their country, but that it’s important to remember their service.

"Given that the Korean War is the 'forgotten war,' I was very impressed that the Korean government put so much effort and money behind making sure they came over here and thanked the veterans of the United States," Erickson said. "When these opportunities come up, we need to do our best to get our local veterans (involved), because they're not going to do it on their own."

Erickson hopes any other Korean War veterans in the community will contact him so their service can be recognized.

Originally from Kansas, Betts joined the U.S. Army and was on active duty until 1956.

Betts said he remembers there not being a lot of trees where he was, and that the weather was frigid.

"My God, was it cold," Betts said. "You get over there, and I'll tell you, I lucked out over there. You see (things) that you just don't forget."

Erickson said he signed Betts up for the recognition when he saw that the consulate general wanted to thank veterans.

"I've known (him) for a few years through the senior center and the Elks Lodge, and I knew that he was a Korean War veteran," Erickson said, adding they were invited to a ceremony in Denver.

"I will tell you that Daryl didn't know what we were doing, because I don't think we would have gone had he known," Erickson said. "So I just told him we had an appointment, and he needed to go with me."

Once they arrived, representatives of the South Korean government thanked Betts for his service and the service of other GIs in Korea.

"I think it will help (Betts) heal a little bit for things that he went through over there," Erickson said.

Contact Ian Neligh at couranteditor@evergreenco.com, and check www.clearcreekcourant.com for updates and breaking news.