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3 veterans receive medals – decades after service

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 November 2015 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – William Fox of Lyndonville was presented with medals today from his service in the Navy from 1959 to 1963. Fox was one of three local veterans to receive long overdue medals. David Hellert of Shelby and Ronald Jewell of Holley, both Vietnam War veterans, also received medals.

Fox was in the blockade of Cuba in 1962 and President John F. Kennedy came aboard his ship, an experience that Fox said was a highlight of his service in the Navy.

“It was awesome,” Fox said. “Not everyone had that opportunity.”

Fox served in the U.S. Navy from Aug. 13, 1959 to July 26, 1963. He was presented with the National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal and Navy Expeditionary Medal.

“I wish my mother was alive,” Fox said. “She told me to go get my medals.”

After his military service, Fox worked 23 years for the former Abex Corporation in Medina and then 17 years for a steel mill in Lockport.

David Hellert is handed his medals from Orleans County Legislator Don Allport, who spoke during a Veterans Day program today outside the Veterans Service Agency on Route 31 in Albion.

Hellert was in the Army from Oct. 10, 1969 to May 5, 1972. Today he was presented with the Bronze Star Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Bronze Star Attachment, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Ribbon with device, and Marksman Badge & Auto Rifle Bar.

Hellert worked as a plumber and steamfitter for the State Canal Corp. after his service in Vietnam. He remains active with the Shelby Volunteer Fire Company.

Ronald Jewell of Holley, left, is presented with medals for his service in Vietnam, including an Army Commendation Medal for an act of valor when Jewell risked his life to put out a fire. Jewell left his bunker on March 8, 1967 to help put out an ammo dump, which caught fire from a mortar attack.

Jewell was in Vietnam for a year, leaving on Oct. 25, 1966 and returning a year later. He left for Fort Hood in 1966 when his son was 2 months old.

“I was kind of loose and crazy and it calmed me down,” Jewell said about his military service.

He would work 33 years at Rochester Products. He said his wife of 49 years, Dianne, has been a great influence in his life. The couple raised three sons.

The three veterans presented with medals today include, from left: William Fox of Lyndonville, Ronald Jewell of Holley, and David Hellert of Shelby.

Paul Fulcomer, the Veterans Service Agency director, helped the veterans secure their medals.

Fulcomer, pictured at right, is retiring at the end of the month after 13 years as the Veterans Service Agency director. He is pictured with his grandson, Mason Berry, during today’s Veterans Day program.

“It’s the best job I’ve ever had in my life and the most rewarding,” said Fulcomer, a Vietnam War veteran.

There will be a retirement celebration and open house for Fulcomer at the VFW Post in Medina from 2 to 5 p.m. on Nov. 22.

Tim Lindsay, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Albion, shared an opening prayer and also the benediction at today’s Veterans Day observance. Lindsay has three sons serving in the military.

He said the military draws out the best qualities of valor, duty and honor.

“Their service has made us a better people and nation,” Lindsay said about veterans.

Markeya Lucas-Drisdom of Albion, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, served in the Honor Guard during today’s observance.

County Legislator Lynne Johnson delivers remarks at the service today.

“Veterans are ordinary and yet extraordinary human beings – men and women who offered some of life’s most vital years in the service of their country, and who sacrificed their ambitions so others would not have to sacrifice theirs,” Johnson said.

She urged the community to thank veterans for their service.

“Some veterans bear visible signs of their service: a missing limb, a jagged scar, a certain look in their eye,” she said. “Others may carry the evidence inside of them: a pin holding a bone together, or a piece of shrapnel in the leg.”

Members of the Honor Guard do a gun salute in today’s Veterans Day program.