SALT LAKE CITY — A trio of Top of Utah veterans were honored Friday with the highest award given by the Utah Department of Veterans Affairs.
Casey Kunimura, Norm Nelson and Bob Ramos each received a Utah Distinguished Service to Veterans Award in a ceremony at the Utah State Capitol.
Kunimura lives in North Ogden and served in the Army during World War II.
Nelson lives in Perry and served with the Air Force during the Vietnam conflict.
Ramos, a Riverdale resident, also served with the Army during World War II.
Terry Schow, director of the UDVA, said the award was created this year as a way to honor those who have made significant contributions to veterans programs.
“This award has never been presented before and this year’s recipients are the first to receive it,” Schow said. “So they are truly the best of the best.”
Schow said the Top of Utah trio has dedicated their lives to veterans, doing things like raising money for the Ogden veterans home, volunteering at activities and helping disabled veterans.
“We created the award because there are a lot of men and women who have been going above and beyond for veterans for many years,” he said. “A lot of these people don’t get any praise until they are eulogized at their funerals. And the fact is, a lot of our veterans won’t be around much longer, so we feel like now is the time.”
Kunimura was also recently honored in Washington, D.C., with a special Congressional Gold Medal.
He saw heavy combat during the war with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, a unit that was composed entirely of Japanese-Americans and served in Germany, France, Italy and later the Pacific Theater.
“It’s nice to be recognized,” Kunimura said. “But I don’t really represent myself, I represent all of those who came before and after me, especially those who I fought with and never came back home.”
Keith Davis, a Springville resident, and Bill Christofferson, a Salt Lake City resident, who each served with the Army during World Word II, also received the award.
Gov. Gary Herbert, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, all spoke at the Veterans Day ceremony.