After 67 Years Harry Chesnulevich Receives his Navy Service Medal
August 23, 2019
by Dave Morin
Retired Hudson Fire Deputy Chief Harry Chesnulevich thought his family, friends and firefighters had gathered to celebrate his 91st birthday, but the event was actually a ceremony for the U.S. Navy to present to Harry a Commendation Ribbon with Medal Pendant and Combat Distinguishing Device. This recognition was 67 years in the making. The original order highlighting Harry’s service and medal recommendation came from the commanding officer of the U.S.S. English dated April 23, 1952.
Harry enlisted in the Navy, serving from September 1947 until August 1951. He was stationed in Norfolk, Va., until the Korean War broke out when his ship was sent to the Pacific. During the war, the U.S.S. English was assigned to assist ground troops landing in Korea with support fire. As a plotting room fire controlman, Harry served in the area for nine months.
At the time when the medal was to be presented to him for his valiant service, he was told the pendants were not available for distribution at the time. Over the years, several attempts were made to obtain the medals that Harry had earned, but the efforts ended without them being received. He finally let it go thinking he would never pin the ribbon onto his chest.
Recently, his son John, looking through some personal papers of Harry’s, came upon the 1952 Navy documentation describing his dad’s service and medal that was to be issued to him. Knowing that his dad had never received the medal, he contacted a relative’s sister, Lieutenant Commander Thea Lopez, who took the information provided by John through the channels of the Navy. Amazingly, within two weeks, the medals were issued.
A large group was gathered at the Buttercup Hill Community Room on Aug. 18 for the party when Harry noticed the sharply pressed, clean white Navy uniform of LCDR Kevin J. Sherman, Commanding Officer, United States Navy Operational Support Center in Manchester as he came through the door.
Lt. Commander Sherman walked to Harry’s side and saluted and presented the medal to Harry. The surprise presentation brought tears to Harry’s eyes. As the room of supporters stood, Sherman read the following.
Issued on April 11, 1952
The Commander Naval Forces, Far East, takes pleasure in commending Fire Controlmen 3rd Class Harry J. Chesnulevich, United States Navy, for services in connection with the military effort against the enemy as set forth below:
“For meritorious service as a Plotting Room Fire Controlman on board the U.S.S. English (DD-696), during the period from 13 October 1950 to 19 April 1951, while the ship was engaged in combat operations against the enemy in the Korean area. He demonstrated exceptional ability in the effective operation and maintenance of all types of shore bombardment and in destroying small surface targets. His consistent devotion to duty and leadership were an inspiration to all, and his operational skills and technical ability were contributing factors to the successful meeting of all military commitments by the ship. His outstanding performance of duty at all times reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Naval Service.
Commendation Ribbon with Medal Pendant and Combat Distinguishing Device are authorized.