Elder Nelson Honored for Military Service in Korea

Contributed By Jason Swensen, Church News staff writer

  • 3 December 2014

Elder Russell M. Nelson and the Korean ambassador Mr. Ahn Ho-Young and his wife, Mrs. Seon Hwa Lee, who presented Elder Nelson with a medal in honor of his service during the Korean War.  Photo by Elder Richard G. Hinckley.

In 1951, Elder Russell M. Nelson was a young physician with a growing family when duty to his country and profession called.

Following the outbreak of war on the Korean Peninsula, he joined the United States Army. The newly commissioned officer was given the responsibility of directing surgical research for the army.

Capt. Russell M. Nelson served at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., in early 1953.

As a lieutenant, Russell M. Nelson, second from left, visited every mobile army surgical hospital in Korea.

The medal presented to Elder Russell M. Nelson on Nov. 19, 2014, by the Korean government in honor of his service during the Korean War. Photo by Elder Richard G. Hinckley.

Sixty-three years have passed—but young Dr. Nelson’s wartime service has not been forgotten.

On November 19, 2014, the Republic of Korea’s ambassador to the United States, Mr. Ahn Ho-Young, visited Elder Nelson at his office at Church headquarters in Salt Lake City. The ambassador presented the Apostle with a medal “of thanks and honor” for his service during the Korean War.

The ambassador was joined by his wife, Mrs. Seon Hwa Lee.

“It’s nice to have someone thank you for what you did 63 years ago,” Elder Nelson told the Church News.

The 90-year-old Church leader shared with the ambassador a number of photos shot during his time in Korea, including pictures of the famed M.A.S.H. units (or mobile army surgical hospitals) and the helicopters that were used to transport the wounded.

“I told the ambassador, ‘I was in Korea before you were,’” he said with a smile. “‘I preceded you by five years.’”

The honor came as a surprise to Elder Nelson, who learned he would be receiving the medal while on a Church assignment in South America.

During their visit, Elder Nelson presented Ambassador Ahn Ho-Young with a statuette of a miniature handcart to commemorate his time in Salt Lake City.

Elder Nelson’s Church duties have taken him to Korea many times since the war.

Sixty-three years have passed—but young Dr. Nelson’s wartime service has not been forgotten.

On November 19, 2014, the Republic of Korea’s ambassador to the United States, Mr. Ahn Ho-Young, visited Elder Nelson at his office at Church headquarters in Salt Lake City. The ambassador presented the Apostle with a medal “of thanks and honor” for his service during the Korean War.

The ambassador was joined by his wife, Mrs. Seon Hwa Lee.

“It’s nice to have someone thank you for what you did 63 years ago,” Elder Nelson told the Church News.

The 90-year-old Church leader shared with the ambassador a number of photos shot during his time in Korea, including pictures of the famed M.A.S.H. units (or mobile army surgical hospitals) and the helicopters that were used to transport the wounded.

“I told the ambassador, ‘I was in Korea before you were,’” he said with a smile. “‘I preceded you by five years.’”

The honor came as a surprise to Elder Nelson, who learned he would be receiving the medal while on a Church assignment in South America.

During their visit, Elder Nelson presented Ambassador Ahn Ho-Young with a statuette of a miniature handcart to commemorate his time in Salt Lake City.

Elder Nelson’s Church duties have taken him to Korea many times since the war.