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Korean War veteran honored for service 60 years ago.
J. D. Carter shows off medals of appreciation for his service in the Korean War.
DONNIE JOHNSTON/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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BY DONNIE JOHNSTON
On July 13, J.D. Carter was sitting on his walker outside the Veterans Administration hospital in Washington when a man of apparent Asian descent came up and shook his hand.
"He thanked me for what I had done for his country," the 81-year-old Culpeper resident recalled.
At first, Carter was a bit mystified. But then he realized that he was wearing his Korean War veteran's cap.
The man thanking him was Sung Choon Park, minister of patriots and veteran affairs for South Korea.
The brief cordial exchange between the two men concluded with Carter receiving an invitation to attend a July 27 ceremony commemorating the 59th anniversary of the signing of the Korean War armistice.
During that ceremony at the Sheraton Pentagon City Hotel, Carter received the surprise of a lifetime.
"They called out five names and I was shocked when mine was one of them," said Carter, a former Culpeper County school bus driver. "When I heard the name 'James Carter' I was so surprised that I spilled a bottle of water I was drinking down my shirt."
The Culpeper native and four other men were honored that night with medals and resolutions of appreciation for their efforts during the Korean War, which was fought between 1950 and 1953.
"It was something I never expected," Carter said.
Sitting in his office surrounded by a lifetime of memorabilia, Carter recalled his six-month tour in Korea at the end of the war.
"It was damp and raw, the coldest place on this Earth," he remembered.
Carter, who never saw actual combat, had one of the worst jobs in the military.
"My job was to drive around and pick up dead bodies," he said. "That was tough. Some of those guys were friends, men you were in boot camp with."
Carter recalled a friend named Danny whom he met soon after he joined the military.
"We were out in the field and we heard that whistling sound," he said. "They taught you that the first whistling sound was OK because they were just sighting you in, but you'd better take cover before the second one came.