By Jimmie FergusonKilleen Daily HeraldLocal residents are getting geared up for the annual Texas Department of Korean War Veterans Association Conference, scheduled to be held in Killeen for the first time.Highlights of this years conference will be retired Col. Joseph C. Rodriguez, a Medal of Honor recipient for his actions during the Korean War; and retired Maj. Gen. Choi Seung Woo of South Korea, who will recognize Ko-rean War veterans for their patriotism and service in the Korean War.The conference, hosted by the Don C. Faith (Medal of Ho-nor) Chapter 222 of Killeen, will convene with members of chapters throughout Texas at 8 a.m. Friday at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center for the general membership meeting.At 11 a.m., veterans will board buses, courtesy of Tim Hancock, owner of Arrow Trailways of Texas, that will take them on a tour of Fort Hood. They will dine in a mess hall and tour the 1st Cavalry Division Museum, where artifacts of the Korean War are displayed.At 5:30 p.m., they will attend a retreat ceremony honoring Korean War veterans and their South Korean counterparts at the Korean War Monument at the conference center.At 6:30 p.m., a banquet will begin at the Howard Johnson Hotel in Killeen. Cost per person is $25. Tables will be set up for 11 people.The affair will have a Hawaiian theme with a Hawaiian band from Bedford and hula girl dancing.Drawings will be held for $300, first prize; $200, second prize; and $100, third prize.Rodriguez, a native of San Bernardino, Calif., graduated from San Bernardino Valley College. He entered the U.S. Army in October 1950.Less than four months later, he was fighting the enemy in Korea. A week after the event for which he won the Medal of Honor, he was wounded in combat action and was evacuated to a hospital in Japan, where he remained recuperating for three months.Upon his request, Rodriguez returned to his unit in Korea and continued to serve until November 1951, when he was flown to the United States so President Harry Truman could present him the nations highest military award for distinguishing himself at the risk of his life in action against an armed enemy May 21, 1951.At the time, Rodriguez was a sergeant. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Engineer Corps and obtained the rank of colonel upon his retirement.Saturdays activitiesThe Korean War Veterans Awards Ceremony will be conducted from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center.Any veteran of the Korean War or family member of a deceased veteran who would like to receive a medal should contact Lisa Humphreys, president of the Killeen Sister Cities, Inc. at (254) 681-7616 before the ceremony, which is open to the public.Choi presented medals to more than 140 veterans at the ceremonies in Killeen and at the Temple Veterans Hospital in October 2002.Major General Choi has dedicated his life and personal finances to creating and presenting appreciation medals to show his gratitude for the sacrifices Korean War veterans made for the sake of freedom, Humphreys said.At the request of Mayor Maureen Jouett in 2000, Killeen Sister Cities Inc. has sponsored commemorative events as part of the 50-year anniversary of the Korean War for the past three years, Humphreys said.Contact Jimmie Ferguson at

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