Remembering the life of Medal of Honor recipient Ernest West

Local News

WURTLAND, KY (WOWK) — People came from all over to pay their respects to one war hero whose legacy will live on in the hearts of those who knew him best.

Wurtland, Kentucky resident Ernest West won the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroic efforts in the Korean War.

West’s platoon was ambushed near Sataeri, Korea and he ordered his men to retreat when their commander Captain George Gividen was severely wounded. West carried Gividen out of direct combat while defending him from the enemy attackers at close range.

Having his eye injured and later removed, he then returned to the battlefield to rescue two more soldiers leaving no man behind. Upon his return home, President Eisenhower presented West with the Medal of Honor on January 29th, 1954 at the White House.

West passed away at St. Mary’s Medical Center last week at the age of 89-years-old. At his funeral and visitation inside the Wurtland Middle School, scores came out to say farewell.

West was also one of the few surviving Medal of Honor awardees from Korea and was a close friend of Hershel “Woody” Williams, who was awarded the medal after World War II. Williams says he was friends with West for nearly 60 years and in that time they bonded over how they came to be Medal of Honor recipients.

We don’t talk about what we did, most of us feel and most of us would say the only reason we have the medal is because of others.

Hershel “Woody” Williams, WWII Veteran/Medal of Honor recipient

West was not only a big name in his own community, but also others across the U.S. Fellow veterans from as far away as Indiana drove to pay their respects to not only a hero but also the man behind the medal.

Kentucky State Senator Robin Webb says she believes Greenup County is an area that exemplifies patriotism and honoring everyone who’s served.

The schools still recognize that. It’s still woven into the community and our county here.

Robin Webb, Kentucky State Senator (D)

The community mourns the loss of a hero, but his legacy will never die.

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