WILTON — Fifty-seven years after serving his country, Korean War veteran Carl A. Seaward Jr. finally got his service medals Saturday, thanks to U.S. Rep. Michael Michaud.
The ceremony was held at Wilson Grange No. 321 during the Franklin County Democratic Committee's 39th annual St. Patrick's pancake breakfast in front of a larger-than-usual crowd.
“I have waited a long time for this and it sure is nice to get it,” said Seaward, 80, of Wilton, after Michaud, D-Maine, presented a framed set of medals.
Michaud was accompanied by state Sen. John Patrick, D-Rumford. Earlier, Michaud asked Seaward and Patrick to join him for the ceremony.
“Veterans and their families have really served this country over a number of years in different wars, different conflicts, and I think one of the things we have to do is to make sure that we recognize them for their service,” Michaud said.
“It's each and every day that we should thank the veterans and their families for the sacrifices they have gone through as well, and that's one of the reasons why I'm here with Carl today,” he said. Seaward served in the U.S. Army in Korea.
“So, on behalf of a very, very grateful nation I would like to present to you, Carl, the medals that you have earned during your time in the United States Army,” Michaud said.
He awarded Seaward the Presidential Unit Citation, the National Defense Service Medal, the Korean Service Medal and Bronze Service Stars attachment, and the United Nations Service Medal.
“I want to thank you and your family for the great service you've given this great nation of ours. Thank you,” Michaud said, prompting a standing ovation.
In 1950, Seaward, a Melrose, Mass., native who grew up in Dorchester, enrolled in the University of Maine Forestry School to become a forester.
In 1952, he was drafted at the age of 22 into the Army. He spent 16 weeks of infantry heavy-weapon training at Indiantown Gap., Penn., and then intelligence training in the Army General School at Fort Riley, Kan.
He was assigned to G-2 Intelligence, Second Division Headquarters and served in Korea from 1953 to 1954.
He was stationed north of the 38th Parallel, 5 miles from the front lines, which became the Demilitarized Zone on July 27, 1953, when a cease-fire agreement between the U.N. and North Korea ended the war.
Cpl. Seaward said he returned stateside with other soldiers to no fanfare. Saturday's ceremony was long overdue, he said.
“It's very, very important to me, it really was, and I am so grateful for Rep. Mike to present it to me, and I think it's fitting, because we got no recognition when we came back," Seaward said. "It was just like Vietnam.”
On discharge, Seaward returned to the University of Maine, graduating in 1956 with a degree in forestry.
Following a forester job of four years in Oregon, he returned to Maine and began a teaching career that ended in Jay in 2002. He served 18 years there as a counselor for elementary and middle school students before retiring.