Sixty years ago, a Marine risked his life by throwing his body on a grenade. Today, he’s the Grand Marshal of UF’s Homecoming Parade.
Cpl. Duane Dewey, an 81-year-old Medal of Honor recipient, will lead the parade in a Marine Jeep. Following him will be other veterans and two members of the Department of Defense’s 60th Anniversary of the Korean War Commemoration Committee.
Dewey plans to lead the parade, and Col. David J. Clark, director of the committee, will present him with his plaque and award at about 10:30 a.m. at Van Fleet Hall on campus.
Dewey received his Medal of Honor in 1953. He was near Panmunjom, Korea and serving as a machine gunner in Company E. He and his assistant gunner were hurt and receiving medical attention when a grenade landed near him. Dewey yelled for other Marines to get out of the way, while he “smothered the deadly missile with his body, personally absorbing the full force of the explosion to save his comrade from possible injury or death,” according to his Medal of Honor citation.
Commander of the Korean War Veterans’ Association in Gainesville Dick Davis said he is a good friend of Dewey’s. He said Dewey told him when President Dwight D. Eisenhower awarded the Medal of Honor, Eisenhower whispered, “If that had been an American grenade, you wouldn’t have been here.”
Davis also said Dewey’s was the first Medal of Honor Eisenhower gave to anyone.
Clark said 13 Korean War Medal of Honor recipients are alive today. It is the nation’s highest award for military personnel who risked his or her own safety, Clark said.
Canedo said honoring these veterans is the nation’s way of righting a wrong because the Korean War is often forgotten.
“From the government’s perspective, the 60th anniversary is the last time to say thank you as a nation to all of them,” Clark said.
Contact Samantha Shavell at [email protected].