Local solider honored for heroic actions along North, South Korean border

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A Massachusetts native is being honored for helping a North Korean defector escape. The dramatic video was seen all around the world.

U.S. Army Major Jeffrey Schmidt was deployed to South Korea, where he is stationed near the DMZ. On Nov. 13, a 24-year-old North Korean soldier bolted for the south. He was shot during the escape, but survived.

Now, Major Schmidt and five others are being honored for their actions.

"This is nothing new. He's always been, he's a good kid," said Schmidt's grandfather, Jim Schmidt.
In Norwood, a world away from the demilitarized zone separating North and South Korea, Jim can't contain his pride for his grandson, a 1997 graduate of Mansfield High School.

"He surprised me all my life with the things that he accomplished. It goes right along he keeps doing things that I wouldn't do," said Schmidt.

MORE: North Korean defector fears being sent back, has medical problems that stun doctors

Surveillance video released by the military shows how it all went down. After the 24-year-old North Korean soldier sped his Jeep from the north to the south, a group of North Korean soldiers chased him and shot at him, but they couldn't find him. Later, using a thermal imaging camera, South Korean troops located the defector and he was dragged to safety.

On Thanksgiving Day, General Vincent Brooks, the commander of U.S. troops in South Korea, pinned a medal of commendation on Major Schmidt and five others.

Jim served in World War II and his son, Jeffrey's father, is also military.

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