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KOREAN WAR VETERAN'S 65TH-BIRTHDAY SURPRISE IS THE PURPLE HEART HE EARNED 46 YEARS AGO

Patrick Adams probably doesn't feel much different today after receiving a Purple Heart Wednesday, but now he has proof his country appreciates his sacrifice of 46 years ago.

"I was out serving my country and happened to get wounded," said the Korean War veteran, who still carries the bullet in his ankle.

He received the Purple Heart during a surprise 65th birthday party in Matthew Glab Post 1477, American Legion, in Lackawanna Wednesday night.

Friends describe him as a quiet, good-hearted man who did not pursue the medal after the government apparently never completed the paperwork for it.

"I just forgot about it," he said.

"He's just a right down-to-earth guy," said Lester Leathers, a member of Glab Post. "It's a shame it took all these years to get his Purple Heart."

Adams was an 18-year-old Army corporal advancing with his outfit into the streets of Seoul on Sept. 26, 1950.

"We were going into the city of Seoul, and the enemy was on the streets," he recalled.

North Korean soldiers were shooting from buildings, and Adams ducked behind a large tree.

"He caught me in the leg," said Adams, who added that he looked at the man who shot him in the ankle, aimed his rifle at him and shot him before the enemy could get off more rounds.

Adams continued advancing and then was hit in the buttocks with hand grenade shrapnel.

"That put me down," he said. "I crawled behind a tank."

He followed the tank as his unit retreated 200 yards or so behind friendly lines. Adams spent three months in the hospital and was sent back to Korea. He was discharged in 1952.

The Patton, Pa., native said he then traveled around a bit, looking for work.

"I finally ended up here in Lackawanna and got a job at Ford," he said. He retired in 1993 as a material handler.

Adams' friend Nancy Milewski pursued the paperwork for the medal and organized the party.

"He was telling me about it," she said of his war wounds. "I thought he deserved a little recognition."

Assemblyman Francis J. Pordum, D-Derby, who has known Adams for several years, presented the Purple Heart to him. Lackawanna Mayor Kathleen M. Staniszewski gave him a proclamation.

"I don't know what to say. I never expected to be up here tonight," Adams said. "A few people lied to me (to get me here)."

Adams was married for 38 years to the former Donna Zanoni, who died in 1994. His three daughters, Paulette, Lori Noblett and JoLinda Neill, and three granddaughters applauded proudly for him.

"He is mild-mannered, modest, honest, kind-hearted. He's a good guy, not just because he's my father," Miss Adams said.

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