REED CITY — After 65 years, a local celebrity finally received medals of honor for his service during the Korean War.
Rudy Grahek or, as many know him, Dynamite the Clown, was presented four medals of honor by Rep. John Moolenaar at Seven Slots Grille in Reed City on Monday, Dec. 2. Moolenaar was also accompanied by Rep. Michele Hoitenga and Sen. Curt VanderWall.
“Rudy, we are so grateful for the service of you and your family. And today we want to honor you with the awards you earned tending our nation,‘ Moolenaar said.
Grahek’s sister, Mary Zakrajsek, was 4 years old when her brother was drafted into the military in 1952.
“He didn’t really have much of a choice," she said. “He graduated from high school and was handed his papers."
Zakrajsek said she does not remember much of her brother being sent to Korea, other than her mother crying a lot.
“I was so young when Rudy left for Korea, I only remember my mother crying almost every day he was gone," she said.
Zakrajsek said she never heard much about Grahek’s time overseas until about 10 years ago. One of the stories she recalls her brother telling involved an underplayed car crash and some British soldiers.
“The one story he would tell people before he started to open up about Korea was about him camping at the bottom of a large hill or a mountain. As he and his group were at the base of the mountain, Rudy looked up and saw a jeep coming down the mountain and gaining speed. The brakes had gone out and the driver could not stop. Suddenly Rudy said he saw the jeep roll over and men jump out. Rudy and his team ran over to help and when they got to the group of British soldiers, one of them popped up and was brushing off his uniform and said ‘Hello chap, a bit of a bumpy ride there. Do you have some tea?’‘
After serving for a year and nine months in Korea until 1954, Grahek returned home to Cadillac and attended Ferris State University to study marketing and business management.
In 1956, Grahek registered as Dynamite the Clown and started doing parades, fairs and services and has not stopped clowning around since.
For his almost two years in Korea, Grahek received the National Defense Service Medal, Combat Infantry Badge, United Nations Service Medal and the Korean Service Medal.
“It’s about time I got them,‘ Grahek said. “It’s only been 65 years in the making.‘
All joking aside, Grahek said he is in awe over receiving the awards all these years later.
“I just can’t believe this,‘ he said. “I can’t believe it has been 65 years. I am very honored to have gotten these.‘