NCFL veterans honor the life of Korean War Medal of Honor recipient, Duane Dewey

Published: Oct. 14, 2021 at 5:22 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -Duane Dewey earned his Medal of Honor serving as a Marine in the Korean War and was North Central Florida’s only living veteran to bear the honor.

“Got it in my hip pocket, Doc!,” are the words straight from Dewey in 1952 as he placed a live grenade under his hips while serving in the Korean war. He was being treated for wounds when his friend and fellow Korean War veteran, Don Sherry, said Dewey and the medic flew five feet in the air from the grenade’s impact.

“When he got hit with that grenade, that was his first thought was to think of his daughter,” said Sherry.

It’s one reason why Sherry said Dewey survived the blast after emergency surgery and months of recovery.

“I was flabbergasted,” said Dewey in 2017 at an event to rename a road in his honor. “In the first place, I didn’t, I never expected to get anything like that.”

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As a Marine, his platoon’s mission was to secure land that is now the Korean DMZ. Blocking that grenade earned Dewey the Medal of Honor and a new nickname from President Eisenhower in 1953.

“Every time I would pick him up to take him somewhere and he’d put that medal of honor ribbon around his neck, it just gave me goosebumps that I would be actually sitting next to somebody that was such a hero,” said Retired Alachua County Veteran Services Officer, Jim Lynch.

Eisenhower called Dewey, “The Man of Steel” and the name stuck. Nearly every year, hosted by the American Legion Post 16— the community celebrated Dewey and honored his sacrifice for National Medal of Honor day.

“Around March the 25th, Duane would come in and bring his family and all his neighbors and we would pack the Legion and would have a ceremony to honor Duane,” said Sherry.

Dewey died at 89 in St. Augustine survived by children and family.

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