George Felton arrived in Korea in 1951, fully expecting to complete his tour of duty.
But when he was felled with Korean hemorrhagic fever (KHF), his duty was cut short, but what he did for South Korea’s independence was not forgotten.
On Thursday, Nov. 17, South Korea’s Consul General Yeon-Ho Choi proclaimed Felton an ambassador of peace, and presented him with a medal acknowledging his contribution to the country’s survival.
“Without people like Mr. Felton, we would be suffering from the dictatorship of North Korea,” the consul-general said.
He asked the 20 people present to give give Felton a big round of applause “because he’s my hero.”
Felton’s daughter, Patti Johnson, and his sons Marc and Mike, were among the guests who attended the presentation.
It took place in Langley Memorial Hospital’s third floor, where Felton was a patient. He died the next day. He was 85.
Korean hemorrhagic fever is endemic to Asia and especially Korea, and is caused by the Hantaan virus. It is normally characterized by acute renal failure, but in Felton’s case it damaged his heart. A shell that exploded next to him, killing his friend, caused significant hearing loss.
On Thursday, it was clear that despite his illness, Felton was touched by the ceremony. He wore other medals he had earned over years.
He was also presented with a certificate from Yeon-Ho Choi which read:
“It is a great honour and pleasure to express the everlasting gratitude of the Republic of Korea and our people for the service you and your countrymen have performed in restoring and preserving our freedom and democracy.
“We cherish in our hearts the memory of your boundless sacrifices in helping us re-establish our Free Nation.
“In grateful recognition of your dedicated contributions, it is our privilege to proclaim you an ‘Ambassador for Peace’ with every good wish of the people of the Republic of Korea. Let each of us reaffirm our mutual respect and friendship that they may endure for generations to come.”