Prisoner Of War receives Eagle Scout honors nearly 70 years later
The Korean War essentially ended in 1953. Ed Soria was a Prisoner of War there for three years.
After his time in the military, Soria moved to Lake Shastina, Calif. Right before going to war, Soria handed in his papers and became an Eagle Scout but never received the formal awards, until Tuesday.
Soria served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War and the Vietnam War. As a POW in the Korean War, he was in a group that came to be known as the Tiger Survivors. Originally, there were 700 POWs taken by the Korean general in charge of them. According to government records, only 296 survived. Today, only 36 are still alive.
"We lost 58% of the men to malnutrition, no medical help," Soria remembered.
Soria used his Boy Scout and Eagle Scout training as a POW.
"My Eagle Scout training helped me tremendously to survive in a very harsh environment," Soria said.
He never received the honors that come with it, despite having all the other honors he received as a part of the military - including the Purple Heart and presidential awards.
"I think the [Eagle Scout] medal was taken to my mother but somehow it got lost," Soria said.
When he finally came home from South Korea, Soria volunteered to go to Vietnam in 1967 as a military engineer.
"There's nothing like freedom, and freedom isn't free. you have to fight for it!" Soria said.
Years after his duty ended, his service is still celebrated.
"First of all you stopped communism in its tracks," Sheriff Jon Lopey said to Soria before he was presented with his Eagle Scout honors.
He received those honors on Tuesday, 68 years after he joined the Korean War. Now, Lake Shastina is exactly where he wants to be.
"I promised myself that one day, when all the wars were over for me, that I would find a place where it would be quiet and I could watch the trees in the breeze, the birds flying, tranquility," Soria reminisced.
Soria says joining the military is in his blood, including family in both World Wars prior to his time in the Korean War.
As a second generation Mexican-American, Soria says he has lived a successful life.
"Only in America, such a free country, a beautiful country that we have, can a man accomplish his dreams - as far as you can go - and it's all up to you," Soria said. "That is the option we have today as free citizens of America."
Soria will also never forget the steps his generation made to stop Communism during the Cold War.
"My generation took down the Berlin Wall," Soria said. "It's because brave men and women stood up to Communism and said, 'no.'"
Soria says he still keeps in contact with the remaining Tiger Survivors. He plans to hang his Eagle Scout medals with his other military medal accomplishments in his home.