In 1952, the Del Norte Triplicate printed a notice of a military honor awarded to the son of Crescent City resident Mrs. Edith Young Pettit.
“Sgt. James McGill, USMC, has been awarded the commendation ribbon with combat ‘V’ for outstanding service in Korea,” the article said.
While on military leave in Los Angeles, McGill’s grandmother handed him the 1952 copy of the Triplicate that McGill’s mother had mailed from Crescent City.
“Why didn’t you tell us you got a medal in Korea?” McGill’s grandmother asked.
McGill was unaware of the award, so he brought the newspaper to his commanding officer, who said he’d look into it.
It wasn’t until a few months after McGill was discharged that he received a phone call at his new job about the award and had it mailed to him.
McGill received the honor because he jumped into an ammunition pit while there was a fire to toss the mortar shells out before they were ruined.
Sixty years later, McGill now lives in Crescent City and last month received a surprise when a friend called to tell him he was in the paper.
Pages of History, a weekly column that publishes snippets of articles from old Del Norte newspapers, reprised the 1952 award notice last month.
Last fall, McGill and his wife Joan flew to South Korea for an all-expenses-paid trip offered to U.S. servicemen who fought in the Korean War. They shook hands with the South Korean president and toured the places he had frequented during the war.
“That place has really built up in 60 years since the war,” said McGill, the commander of VFW Post 1381 for eight years.