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Fishkill veteran receives medals for service during Korean War

Poughkeepsie Journal logo Poughkeepsie Journal 10/27/2020 Geoffrey Wilson, Poughkeepsie Journal
a man standing on a sidewalk: Veteran Joseph Reynolds holds the medals he earned in the Korean War following a ceremony in Newburgh Tuesday. © Patrick Oehler/Poughkeepsie Journal Veteran Joseph Reynolds holds the medals he earned in the Korean War following a ceremony in Newburgh Tuesday.

Joseph Reynolds ran his fingers across the black box.

The medals and pins within, signifying his accomplishments during the Korean War, gleamed in the sunlight under a glass lid.

The honors were earned more than 65 years ago, serving in the U.S. Navy.

The Fishkill resident served from 1951-1955, achieving the rank of Machinery Repairman 2nd Class during his time aboard the U.S.S. Hector and the U.S.S. Ajax. He was involved in minor skirmishes off the coasts of North and South Korea, watching for mines as the ship fired off shots.

Reynolds, now 88, is quick to downplay his role in the service. After he was discharged for a medical reason, he never received the decorations he was owed. He was content with that. His family was not.

“My oldest daughter, she’s the one who urged me to contact Congress and get the ball rolling with my medals,” he said.

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Reynolds received his seven medals and pins during a ceremony Tuesday in Newburgh after working through Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney's office to attain them.

Reynolds was presented seven medals and decorations: the Combat Action Ribbon, the Navy Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Korean Service Medal, the Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation, the United Nations Service Medal and the Honorable Discharge Lapel Pin.

Even after receiving his long overdue commendations, though, Reynolds' focus was on the family he's built since the end of his service.

“I want to give these to my son,” he said. “I know he’ll appreciate them.”

a group of people holding wine glasses: Joseph Reynolds, left, poses with his family, from left, Patty Reynolds Wilson, Neil Wilson, Brian Reynolds, Kathy McElduff and Mary Reynolds, following a ceremony Tuesday in Newburgh in which Joseph Reynolds received medals earned during service in the U.S. Navy in the 1950s. © Patrick Oehler/Poughkeepsie Journal Joseph Reynolds, left, poses with his family, from left, Patty Reynolds Wilson, Neil Wilson, Brian Reynolds, Kathy McElduff and Mary Reynolds, following a ceremony Tuesday in Newburgh in which Joseph Reynolds received medals earned during service in the U.S. Navy in the 1950s.

After he was honorably discharged in 1955 following his hospitalization due to a kidney infection, he attended night school and eventually earned his master’s degree from Union College in Schenectady.

He worked at IBM for 21 years as a mechanical engineer and helped create assembly lines for personal computers. He then worked another 21 years at General Dynamics.

Reynolds was reticent to discuss war tales and details of his service. However, he was happy to share lighter anecdotes, such as the time an anchor was dropped from his ship without a chain attached.

a group of people wearing costumes: Korean War veteran Joseph Reynolds sits with his wife, Mary, during a ceremony in Newburgh Tuesday. © Patrick Oehler/Poughkeepsie Journal Korean War veteran Joseph Reynolds sits with his wife, Mary, during a ceremony in Newburgh Tuesday.

In April 2019, he took part in a Hudson Valley Honor Flight. The nonprofit organization shuttles local veterans of wars and conflicts to Washington D.C. to visit memorials at no cost. Reynolds, during his trip out of Stewart International Airport, learned of the medals he was owed and how he could obtain them.

He contacted Maloney's office in September of last year, and the Congressman presented him the medals Tuesday.

"Helping Hudson Valley veterans obtain the medals they’ve earned in service is one way we can show our gratitude for those who put their lives on the line defending our freedom," said Maloney, a Democrat from Cold Spring.

Reynolds' wife, Mary, said she was happy to see her husband honored.

Mary Reynolds holds medals presented to her husband, Joseph, during a ceremony Tuesday. © Patrick Oehler/Poughkeepsie Journal Mary Reynolds holds medals presented to her husband, Joseph, during a ceremony Tuesday.

“They really had to do their research, and they pulled through,” she said.

And Monday the Reynolds family will have something else to celebrate, when Joseph turns 89.

Geoffrey Wilson: gwilson@poughkeepsiejournal.com; 845-437-4882; Twitter: @GeoffWilson_

This article originally appeared on Poughkeepsie Journal: Fishkill veteran receives medals for service during Korean War

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