By ERICA LYLE-WOODARD
Korean War Marine veteran Richard J. Lyle was the guest of honr at the 2017 Memorial Day Parade in the nation’s capital. He also received a belated Medal of Good Conduct while in DC. He’s pictured in the Korean War-era Jeep he rode in for the parade.
This is a story for me about my father, Richard J. Lyle, a Secaucus resident for 48 years. My Dad did not know what to make of it when I asked him for copies of his documents related to his days as a United States Marine Cpl. during the Korean War in 1952 to 1955.
Nothing was missing. His discharge papers and medical records were in order. And he’d long ago received the medals the service felt he was due; National Defense Service Medal; Korean Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal, and the Korean Presidential Unit Citation Medal after being discharged in January 1955.
He said to me, “Why are you asking me for all my paperwork from the Marines?” I told him I had reached out to the United States Marine Corps about an overlooked medal upon his discharge for Medal of Good Conduct. He said that it was okay with him, so I reached some more.
A few weeks later, I surprised him. A letter from the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri, which held all the records of each military person, contacted him regarding an overlooked Medal of Good Conduct upon his discharge.
Boy, was my Dad surprised! After finding all this out, I decided I wanted to do something extraordinary for him after sixty years, because he deserved it. Both my husband, James Woodard, and I agreed that he’s a great man and if anyone deserves it, it’s Dad. I had requested from the military to see if they would indeed honor him with a ceremony for his medal, and much to my surprise, they did! They invited him to be the guest of honor of the 2017 Memorial Day parade in Washington, D.C., on May 29, 2017, where he rode in one of the Korean War era military vehicles. Afterwards, a presentation and ceremony service were held at the Korean War Memorial where he was honored with not just one medal, but with three service medals that were overlooked in 1955. He was honored with The Republic of Korea’s Ambassador Service Award, Medal for Peace, as well as his overlooked Medal for Good Conduct for his service. Jim Fisher, executive director of the Korean War Veterans Memorial Foundation, said, “It is known that sometimes soldiers are overlooked for proper recognition of their service. It’s more common than you think.”
My Dad’s time in the Marine Corps began in early 1952 when American involvement started in the conflict between North and South Korea. “The Forgotten Victory” was to stop the spread of communism — and at age 19, he figured he should go ahead and enlist. He thought it was the right thing to do. He stayed for more than three years.
Though the Korean War started 67 years ago—June 25, 1950—when North Korean tanks crossed the 38th Parallel (the boundary with South Korea), from the following week reveals it took several days for the United States to realize the scope of what had happened. Nevertheless, the Korean War became the “forgotten victory” for many Americans.
Because I have so much love and he is my hero, I thought what a wonderful way of recognizing him and his service than Memorial Day. “I knew he was in the Marine Corps, but until the last five years he didn’t really say much about it. Part of it was because he was getting older and the other reason was because he shared a lot of memories with me about his days in the Marines.
With these stories fresh in my head and reviewing his discharge papers I realized he was indeed missing a Medal of Good Conduct, so that’s when I contacted The National Personnel Records Center about obtaining one for my Dad. I knew he would be tickled.
After the paperwork was submitted and verified, the medal was approved in April. I contacted James Fisher, and that’s when Mr. Fisher asked if my Dad would come down to D.C. for Memorial Day to be their guest of honor and participate in the parade and be the recipient of three medals, and happily he did.
I can’t think of a man who is more deserving than my father-in-law. I cannot believe they overlooked him 62 years ago for this award,” my husband James told the audience at the awards ceremony. It was a big deal to us and to him. I am so proud of my Dad, Richard J. Lyle.