By David Hotle, The JOURNAL
In was a long time coming, but the U.S. government has awarded Washington resident Max Embree with the Korean Defense Service medal he earned while serving in the Air Force 60 years ago.
Embree said he earned the medal when he was 22 and serving in South Korea as a radar technician crew member. His team was stationed in Tachikawa, Japan, and installed systems all over Japan, Korea, Okinawa and several Pacific islands. The medal arrived recently and on Monday Washington County Veterans Affairs Service Office Director Sue Rich awarded Embree the medal. As he was awarded the medal, he recalled three years ago when several medals belonging to his uncle, Leo Embree, were found and presented to him.
?It was almost as big of a surprise as when my uncle?s medals showed up,? he said. ?I earned that in 1958 and I didn?t realize the medal even existed until one of the fellows who was on the same crew I was on, during one of our many reunions, asked if I had received the medal.?
He said Rich had helped him fill out the paperwork to apply to receive the medal. Embree was skeptical that he would receive the medal and said he was pleasantly surprised.
To be eligible for the award, a member of the armed forces must have been honorably discharged and served at lease 30 consecutive days or a total of 60 days in South Korea between June 25, 1950 and an open date. Due to the lack of a formally signed peace treaty, the Korean Peninsula still is considered to be in a state of war.
Embree credits Rich for his receiving the medal, saying he would not have pursued it if not for her encouragement. Rich said it had taken over a year for Embree to receive the medal after all the paperwork had been submitted.
Embree, a retired phone company worker, joined the Air Force in 1955. After stateside assignments he was sent to Japan. He spent 22 months in the Far East and 22 months stateside before being discharged. He said that he loved being in the service, saying he enjoyed traveling and the camaraderie. He commented he even enjoyed going through boot camp. While he liked the service he said when he was discharged he was ready to come back to Washington County.