100 Utah veterans recognized for their service in the Cold War

May 18, 2018, 6:43 PM | Updated: 9:37 pm

OGDEN, Utah – A hundred Utah Cold War veterans, whose service largely went unacknowledged in a war that was largely invisible, received Cold War Victory Medals Friday at the George E. Wahlen Ogden Veterans home.

“I think it’s a great honor,” said Vietnam War veteran Larry Kerr, who is the person who along with his chapter of the Disabled American Veterans, organized the distribution of medals.

While the Cold War was an undeclared war, veterans went through the motions of being in a war.

“Kennedy and the Russians were going at it tooth and nail,” said Air Force veteran Tex Crawford “That little light up in the corner of our operations room indicated that we were at DEFCON 4. We thought we were going to war.”

Tension with the Soviet Union meant there was a constant threat of war. Crawford, who served in the Air Force from 1958 to 1966, worked radar operations scanning the skies for the enemy around the clock.

“We spent hours and hours watching our radar, especially in Canada, getting ready for whatever was coming,” Crawford said.

World War II, Korean War and the Vietnam War veterans were historically recognized with medals for their service, but not the men and women who served in the Cold War.

“We did lose ships and submarines to the Cold War,” Kerr said. “We lost aircraft and pilots due to the Cold War, and they never really got any recognition for that at all.”

Utah was the fourth state to offer the Cold War Victory Medal to its veterans. It’s given for honorable service in the U.S. Military between 1946 and the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Air Force veteran Pat Crawford, no relation to veteran Tex Crawford, served just shy of 30 years. He was a ground equipment repairmen and technician but ended up serving in many capacities, and was stationed all over the world. He said receiving the medal meant a lot.

“I have to think about my wife and family and all the sacrifices they made more than me,” he said.

The Hill Air Force thrift shop donated $1,000 to help pay for the medals, and the Disabled American Veterans chipped in the other $500.

Congress first approved a Cold War service medal in 2001, but then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld declined to authorize it.

The idea of the Cold War Victory Medal began after Texas became the first state to authorize its own medal in 2013. Louisiana and Alaska soon followed suit.

Approximately 100,000 Utahns served in the military during the Cold War in various places, from Alaska to Germany to the Korean Demilitarized Zones, according to Kraig Thorne, senior vice commander of VFW Post 4918.

If you know someone who is deserving of this Cold War Victory Medal contact veteran Larry Kerr at 801-776-4230.

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100 Utah veterans recognized for their service in the Cold War