Korean War veteran finally receives medals
Korean War veteran Donald Lariccia stands in his Austintown home with his wife, Mary, and receives his service medals from U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan.
By Bob Jackson
Sunday was a special day for Donald Lariccia.
That’s because more than a half-century after he’d earned them, the Austintown man finally received a cluster of medals for his service in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. They were presented to him at his Oak Trace home by U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, whose appearance was a surprise for Lariccia.
“Man oh man,” the affable 79-year-old honoree said of his reaction to seeing the congressman walk into his home. “I was surprised out of my boots.”
And to top it off, he was surrounded by his family, which he unflinchingly said is the true source of his pride.
If he was starstruck at having the congressman in his home, Lariccia didn’t show it. Before long, Ryan had his suit jacket off, sleeves rolled up, and his tie loosened, and the two were talking like old buddies about the bounty of Cleveland Browns memorabilia proudly displayed in the finished basement of Lariccia’s home.
Oh, and of course about the life-sized cutout of bikini-clad Olympic swimmer Amanda Beard posing for a Budweiser ad. It’s one of the few things in the man cave not associated with the Browns and, more specifically, Boardman native Bernie Kosar.
The event was planned by Lariccia’s granddaughter, Ashley Kanotz, 28, who lives in Cincinnati where she is pursuing a doctorate degree in political science at the University of Cincinnati. She kept the whole thing a secret until the last minute.
“He is very personable, but he does not like attention focused on him,” Kanotz said.
Lariccia was part of the 179th Infantry Regiment while on active duty during the war from 1952 to 1954, attaining the rank of corporal. During his tour of duty, he earned the Korean Service Ribbon with the Bronze Service Star, the Combat Infantryman Badge First Award, the United Nations Service Medal and the National Defense Service Medal.
But when he was discharged, he left the Army with only his discharge documents in hand — and no medals. He could have received them while he was still in Korea but would have had to stay there longer to wait on them, and he was anxious to get home. He expected that the medals would be sent to him shortly.
“He had no idea it was going to take so long to get them,” Kanotz said, noting that Lariccia tried several times over the years to obtain his service medals, to no avail.