Korean War vet, “pillar of the community,” honored

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WALDEN – The greater Walden community turned out Saturday to honor
“a pillar of the community” – John Ciardullo, a veteran
of the Korean War.
He served as an Army corporal in combat “and then spent decades
serving his community and supporting his family when he returned home,”
said State Senator William Larkin, himself an Army veteran, Ciardullo,
83, who is regarded as a hero by his community for, not only his efforts
as a combat infantryman in the Battles of Pork Chop Hill, where he spent
four months fighting from 1952-1953 but, for his dedication to his community,
holding a number of positions ranging from the president of Walden Little
League to the director of the Knights of Columbus.

Until Saturday, Ciardullo was part of a population of veterans from different
wars who were never officially presented with the medals they had rightfully
earned.

Ciardullo’s children, Michael Ciardullo and Kathy Hewitt, discovered
he had unpresented awards when they contacting the VA to inquire about
benefits.

Shortly thereafter they received a call from Congressman Sean Patrick
Maloney’s (D-NY 18) office informing them that their father’s
medals of National Defense Service, Korean Service with Bronze Service
Stars, and United Nations Service, along with a Combat Infantry Badge,
were ready to be presented to him.

Sen. Larkin, who also served in Korean, congratulates Ciardullo

Rep. Maloney, pins Ciardullo’s medals

At Saturday’s ceremony, Maloney said Ciardullo exemplifies that
America, with all of its challenges and problems, “there’s
nothing that can’t be fixed by what’s right with men like
John Ciardullo and we should remember that.”

Orange County Executive Steven Neuhaus, a member of the Naval Reserves,
shared a similar message about Ciardullo’s heroism and how those
like him have made the U.S. the country it is.

“You rarely hear about the good things that this country still has,”
said Neuhaus. “This is still the best country in the world. This
is still the place that people fight for to come here, every day. Ask
anybody in Europe right now, ask anybody in the Middle East: this is still
the beacon of hope and freedom and it’s only for one reason. It’s
for men like John and the rest of the armed forces that have fought for
that freedom and it’s still being fought for today,” he said.

Senator Larkin addressed Ciardullo directly and with passion. “Medals
alone will not thank you for what you did for our country,” said
Larkin. “I thank you from the bottom of my heart and I salute you.”

Many other officials and well over 100 friends, family and friends took
time to give their thanks to Ciardullo, whose wife of 59 years, Clare,
said she was amazed at the number of people who attended the event.

“It’s amazing so many people are here; I can’t believe
it. When I walked in I started to cry just to see all these people honoring
him,” she said.
Ciardullo, who now has trouble speaking or gathering thoughts due to a
medical condition, could not comment, but Clare said she is sure he was
overwhelmed with joy and will most likely process it all, on his own,
at a later time.