Congressman Richard Hanna was at Utica College to present a long overdue honor to a local hero.

Sergeant Kevin Kelly, who is 81, served in the Korean War from November 1952 until July 1953, with the Medical Company of the 31st Regiment, Seventh Infantry Division.

Kelly was awarded the Army Commendation Medal 60 years after he served, when his wife discovered he had earned it while looking at old news clippings from the Observer-Dispatch.

Sadly, he said the Army records he needed were destroyed in a 1973 fire at the National Personnel Records Center.

"Congressman Hanna came through," Kelly said. "They found it, which is wonderful. They found it in the Army records mimeograph sheets.

Gino Geruntino, WIBX

Hanna presented Kelly with his medal, a flag, and a commemorative coin.

The congressman says this day was a long time coming.

"For somebody like me to meet a genuine hero and someone who is so humble about it," Hanna said. "60-something years have passed and it was never an issue for him or his family. You really just have to appreciate the character of the gentleman."

A note sent with the medal from the Army was read during the ceremony, stating that Kelly's "personal courage served as an inspiration to the fighting men and his hasty application of first aid and efficient evacuation of the wounded, undoubtedly saved the lives of many men, thus preserving the fighting strength of the unit."

Kelly was also given a photo plaque by Joseph Reid with the Utica College ROTC.

After his graduation from UC in 1957, Kelly served as the former president of Jay-K Lumber in New Hartford.