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Almost Yesterday is a glimpse into the rich history of our region. Dr. Frank Nickell takes listeners on a journey to specific moments in time, such as the first radio broadcast on KFVS, the history of Farmington’s Carleton College, and the short-lived safari on a Mississippi River island. A gifted storyteller and local historian, Dr. Nickell’s wit and love for the past are combined with sounds and music that augment his narrative.On Saturday, June 7, 2008, Almost Yesterday received First Place in the "Special Programs" category at the Missouri Broadcasters Association Awards Banquet in Kansas City, Missouri.Almost Yesterday airs every Wednesday at 5:42 and 7:42 a.m. and 5:18 p.m.

Almost Yesterday: Richard G. Wilson Receives Congressional Medal of Honor

 The 19-year old medic from Cape Girardeau was killed trying to save a wounded soldier.
Southeast Missouri State University
The 19-year old medic from Cape Girardeau was killed trying to save a wounded soldier.

It seems like Almost Yesterday that Richard G. Wilson became the only resident of Cape Girardeau to ever receive the Congressional Medal of Honor, our nation’s highest military honor.

Wilson was born August 19, 1931, in Marion, Ill., but grew up in Cape Girardeau in a family of seven children. On August 19, 1948 – his 17th birthday – he enlisted in the army and reported to Fort Sam Houston, Texas, where he was trained as a medic.

He volunteered for Airborne School and was assigned to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, as a medic in the 11th Airborne Division.

When the Korean War began in June of 1950, Wilson’s unit was informed they would soon be moving in that direction. He received a final weekend home – over the Fourth of July – returned to Fort Campbell and was soon in Korea.

On Oct. 20, 1950, Private Wilson participated in one of the largest airdrops in American military history. He was part of the 187th Regimental Combat Team which was dropped behind enemy lines, north of Pyongyang, to cut off retreating North Korean units.

On the morning after the air drop, Wilson’s unit moved into a narrow valley, flanked on three sides by high hills. They were soon hit with an intense ambush and forced to withdraw. But there had been many casualties. As a medic, Wilson moved among the wounded, administered aid, and constantly exposed himself to hostile fire.

His company commander ordered a withdrawal to avoid complete encirclement. Wilson assisted wounded men to safety, and then learned that a comrade, previously thought dead, had been seen moving and attempting to crawl to safety. Unarmed and in an open field, Wilson raced through a hail of gunfire to reach the side of the injured soldier.

Two days later, a patrol found the body of 19-year-old Richard Wilson laying by the side of the man he returned to aid.

It seems like Almost Yesterday that we had such heroes.

Frank Nickell is a retired history professor at Southeast Missouri State University.
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