Maloney Announces Legislation to Fix Historic Underpayment of Korean War POWs
Cornwall, NY – After working alongside Korean War veteran and prisoner of war (POW) Corporal Raymond Mellin of Cornwall, Representative Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18) announced the Never Forgotten Korean War POW Act to retroactively eliminate a unique and arbitrary three-month limit on combat pay eligibility for Korean War POWs. The Combat Duty Pay Act of 1952 established combat pay for the United States military, but conditions of the law did not allow Korean War POWs to be paid for more than three months of their time being held in enemy prisons.
“Corporal Ray Mellin was a POW for 37 months, but his time in an enemy prison wasn’t recognized in the way it should have been and it’s about a lot more than just the money,” said Rep. Maloney. “The Korean War is often called “the forgotten war,” but my bill aims to ensure we don’t forget those who served and sacrificed – sometimes the little things say a lot, and I’m hoping my bill will honor these veterans in the way they deserve to be honored.”
“My fervent wish is to have this injustice made right, not for the monetary reasons, but to honor the remaining few Korean War POWs,” said Korean War POW Corporal Raymond Mellin. “I’m very thrilled that the Congressman is pursuing this.”
“Corporal Raymond Mellin is a hero and deserves to be fairly compensated for his time as a POW,” said New York State Assemblyman James Skoufis. “I’m grateful for Congressman Maloney’s focus on making sure veterans like Corporal Mellin get their long-overdue payment for their service.”
“Knowing the many sacrifices that our Veterans make, I am very pleased that Ray Mellin and Congressman Maloney have taken steps to rectify an oversight that occurred at the end of the Korean War to now honor our POWs of the conflict who deserve this recognition for their brave service under extreme and hazardous conditions,” said Cornwall Town Supervisor Dick Randazzo.
“Sadly, it often takes the actions of elected officials to obtain the fair and just compensation due our veterans,” said Director of the Orange County Veterans Service Agency Christian Farrell. “I commend Congressman Maloney for taking up the fight to right a wrong that took place nearly 70 years ago.”
The issue of underpayment was brought to Rep. Maloney’s attention by Cornwall resident and Korean War POW Corporal Raymond Mellin. Corporal Mellin was held in a Korean prison for 37 months during the war but only received combat pay for three months.
The Combat Duty Pay Act of 1952 established expanded payment parameters for members of the armed services who met certain criteria. Although POWs from the Korean War did qualify for combat pay, the law instituted a three-month limit on their eligibility. The Never Forgotten Korean War POW Act would simply strike the language which includes the limit and adjust the rate of pay to be consistent with inflation.
Since joining Congress in 2013, Rep. Maloney has introduced and passed eight pieces of veterans legislation into law. Many of these bills seek to aid service members who were injured during their service, including the Disabled Veterans Student Loan Protection Act, the Disabled Veterans Red Tape Reduction Act, and the Appropriate Care for Veterans Act. His office has also cut through red tape to return over $7 million in earned benefits to nearly 1,300 Hudson Valley veterans.