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Sen. Joni Ernst presents medals to 26 veterans at IVH

T-R PHOTOS BY MIKE DONAHEY — From left, a member of U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst’s staff, Sen. Ernst, and the daughter of deceased U.S. Marine veteran John Allsup are shown during medal award ceremonies Friday at the Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown. Looking on is IVH Commandant Todd Jacobus.

Dozens of U.S military medals were awarded to 26 veterans during ceremonies generating tears and laughter on Friday afternoon at the Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown.

The recipients represented conflicts from World War II to Vietnam.

U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, a Republican from Red Oak and a combat veteran herself, presented the medals to the recipients with a row of colorful flags representing all military branches serving as a fitting backdrop.

“Today we honor incredible men and women,” said Ernst, who served in the U.S. Army. “It is an honor to be here with you. Some of the medals are being re-awarded to replace those which have been lost by the recipients or earned but not awarded at time of service. I am not awarding the medals personally but doing so on behalf of a grateful U.S. government and nation.”

The medals were displayed in a handsome frame — ranging from the Good Conduct Medal to the National Defense Service Medal to the coveted Silver Star.

Sen, Joni Ernst is joined by Herbert “Bill” Barger of the Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown after Barger received medals for his service in the U.S. Army in the Korean War from Ernst in ceremonies Friday at IVH.

Several medals — accompanied by a red rose — were awarded posthumously to family members or to IVH staff.

The late John Allsup, an M3N Marine Corps veteran, was awarded a National Defense Medal for his service in Vietnam. His daughter Jessica accepted the award on his behalf. A beaming George Buck of Lineville received a Silver Star for his service in the Korean War from Ernst while posing with family members.

The Silver Star is awarded to all branches of the Armed Forces to any person who, while serving in any capacity, is cited for gallantry in action against an enemy of the U.S. while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force, while serving with friendly forces, according to military archives.

Donna Collins, D4, was one of several women honored with a medal also during the Korean War.

“Thank you, Donna, for helping pave the way for other women who choose military service,” Ernst said.

Velma Vogel, a Women Army Corps veteran from the Korean War, is joined by U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst after Ernst presented her medals for her service.

Paul Luers, D2, another of many Korean War veterans honored, was awarded medals for his service by Ernst and also for his marriage of 74 years — which drew an immediate and hearty round of applause from the audience.

Velma Vogel, D2, was a recipient of medals for her service in the Women Army Corps in the Korean War.

Vogel was ecstatic holding her medals. explaining later in an interview with the T-R that she was too short for the Army but qualified for the Air Force “by a hair.”

“I wanted to do my part … to help my country,” she said. “I would do it all over again.”

Russell Wright, M3S – Navy – earned his medals in WWII. A native of Spencer, Wright, sporting an Iowa Hawkeye shirt, was thrilled to receive his medals, as was his daughter who accompanied him.

Donna Collins, a U.S. Air Force veteran, is joined by Sen. Joni Ernst after Ernst presented her medals for her service during the Korean War.

Wright was a member of “The Greatest Generation,” a moniker coined by NBC journalist Tom Brokaw to WWII veterans in a book by the title.

Ernst retired as a lieutenant colonel with 23 years of service overseas and stateside. IVH Commandant Todd Jacobus, a U.S. Army veteran with deployments overseas and stateside, served as the event’s emcee.

Approximately 150 recipients, guests and staff attended the two awards ceremonies held first in the Malloy Leisure Resource Center followed by the second in the Ulery Memory Care unit.

U.S. Army veteran Larry Wood, an IVH resident, is joined by U.S Sen. Joni Ernst after Buck received his Silver Star medal and others from the Korean War in ceremonies Friday.

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