MAYFIELD - Ryan Hull wanted to honor his grandfather, Mayfield resident Erwin Hull, who served in the Air Force during the Korean War. He did it by winning an essay contest.
In an issue of the Korean War Veterans Association's Graybeards Magazine, an advertisement called attention to an essay contest with a prize of going to the Korean War Veterans Legacy Workshop in Washington, D.C.
Ryan, 19, who lives in Milford, N.H., and attends college in Philadelphia, wrote the essay, "Social Networking and Mobile Application Development," which suggested the use of Facebook, Twitter and other social media to expand as much information as possible regarding the Korean War and the veterans of the war.
"There is no question that social networking forums such as Facebook and Twitter should be utilized to make the honoring of Korean War veterans much simpler. In fact, with the communicative power of Facebook and Twitter in the hands of the [Korean War Veterans Digital Memorial], Americans can move their honoring of Korean War veterans to the modern age," part of his essay said.
His essay, along with 19 others, was selected as a winner in June.
Ryan flew to Washington, D.C., to attend the workshop in July in an all-expenses-paid trip.
While there, Ryan was pleasantly surprised.
During the workshop, there was a ceremony for Korean War-era veterans in commemoration of the war's 60th anniversary.
Ryan received a medal from the South Korean government to give to his grandfather, Erwin, 81.
The medal was given in appreciation for Erwin's service during the Korean War period. It contains a piece of barbed wire from the demilitarized zone in Korea.
The Korean War, which occurred from 1950 to 1953, was fought between forces of the United Nations and South Korea against communist North Korea and China. The war left Korea divided between North and South Korea, with the demilitarized zone splitting the two.
Erwin, who signed on to the U.S. Air Force in 1952, served for four years at numerous stations as a B-47 pilot. He said he served at Chennault Air Force Base in Lake Charles, La., and made multiple flights into Africa and other nations.
He never flew into Korea.
He said he was surprised when he received the medal.
He said he never applied for medals that he was eligible for.
"I knew there was a few medals out there," he said.
Ryan said he was proud to go to the conference and pick up the medal for his grandfather.
"I just felt very, very honored that I would be able to carry out his legacy," Ryan said.
Ryan attends the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and is a member of the Korean War Veterans Youth Corps.