Sixty-three years to the day after his actions saved the lives of his fellow soldiers, a Marine was honored Wednesday on Grand Island.
At the Charles N. DeGlopper Veterans of Foreign Wars Post, Congressman Brian Higgins presented the family of Cpl. Richard J. Blasinski with medals earned by Blasinski as a member of the "Chosin Few," a name given to the Marines who fought in the Battle of Wonsan-Hungnam-Chosin in North Korea during the Korean War. Outnumbered 8 to 1 on one of the coldest days in North Korea, Marines fought Chinese forces in rough terrain.
On the very first day of the battle, Nov. 27, 1950, Blasinski went above and beyond the call of duty. Higgins read the citation for the Silver Star that noted Blasinski's "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity while serving with Company H, Third Battalion, Seventh Marines, first Marine Division."
The citation said: "When his unit was attacked and overrun by a numerically superior hostile force, Cpl. Blasinski quickly reorganized his squad and deployed them to localize the enemy penetration. Moving from end to end of his unit, he placed the men in advantageous firing positions, ignoring the heavy enemy fire directed on the area. Courageously remaining in an exposed position, he competently and effectively supervised return fire, which directly aided the company in halting the hostile advance. During the brief respite, which followed, he evacuated his wounded and, on his own initiative, skillfully improved his defenses. When the enemy attacked again, he boldly led his men through intense small arms, machine gun and grenade fire, engaging the hostile troops in fierce hand-to-hand combat, dislodging the enemy from their well-entrenched positions and securing the flank. Covering the reorganization of the company, he successfully warded off hostile probes until the remainder of the unit was in position. By his aggressive determination, outstanding leadership and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of heavy enemy opposition, Cpl. Blasinski upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service."
Blasinski was never formally recognized before his passing in 1991. Higgins said the ceremony paid tribute to Blasinski's lifesaving actions when his country needed him the most. "Cpl. Blasinski demonstrated selfless leadership and bravery," said Higgins. "So many veterans never seek recognition, but it is important for us, as a nation, to never forget their sacrifices. We are honored to join the Blasinski family in remembering his service."
Higgins presented the medals at the DeGlopper Memorial VFW Post No. 9249 to Blasinski's family, including his daughter, Carol Blasinski-Rhonemus, a member of the Ladies Auxiliary at the VFW Post No. 9249. Bored one night surfing the Internet, Carol searched her late father's name and learned of his heroics. Her father had never talked about his actions.
"When I found out what he did, I was amazed," she said. She began the process with the help of Higgins and the VFW of securing her father's medals.
The VFW works "one person at a time when people can't find their medals or don't know where their parent's medals are," said Grand Islander Dan McMahon, senior vice commander of VFW District 6. He said the work is the VFW's way of honoring the dead by helping the living.