Medal of Honor recipients to gather in Boston for convention

For a record third time, Boston this week will host the Congressional Medal of Honor Society’s annual convention, a gathering that will laud the 78 living recipients of the nation’s highest military honor.

This year’s convention will include visits to 12 schools and UMass-Boston in Greater Boston by living Medal of Honor recipients, seven of whom will be ferried to their destinations by Blackhawk helicopters Wednesday morning, according to convention planners.

“The Medal of Honor recipients are thrilled to be coming back to Boston this week,’’ said Thomas G. Kelley, one of two current Massachusetts residents awarded the Medal of Honor. “The outpouring of warmth we experienced in our previous conventions in 2001 and 2006 left an indelible impression on all of us.’’

Kelley, a retired Navy captain, was awarded the Medal of Honor for his courageous actions in Vietnam on June, 15, 1969.

An estimated 42 of the 78 living Medal of Honor recipients, including those honored for their courage during World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and Afghanistan conflicts, are expected to participate during the convention that begins Tuesday and ends with the rededication of the South Boston Vietnam Memorial in Medal of Honor Park Sunday morning.

“The city must be proud to be chosen not once but three times,” said Thomas J. Hudner, the other Medal of Honor recipient who lives in Massachusetts. “We are proud of the warm relationship that exists between us and look forward to being in Boston again this week.”

Hudner, a retired Navy pilot, received the Medal of Honor for his gallant actions as a fighter pilot in North Korea on Dec. 4, 1950.

On Saturday night, the organization’s Patriot Award Gala dinner will honor Massachusetts native and current Marine Corps Commandant General Joseph F. Dunford Jr., New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, reporter Bob Woodruff of ABC News, and celebrity chef Robert Irvine “for their commitment to our veterans and men and women currently serving in the Armed Forces,’’ organizers said in a statement.

On Wednesday, recipients will visit schools in Greater Boston, and the seven veterans will be flown to their destinations on Blackhawk helicopters. After the school visits, the veterans will be flown to Boston Common, arriving around 11 a.m. for a visit to the State House.

“These Medal of Honor recipients have formed a strong bond with the city and people of Boston and to be able to honor them here for the third time in 14 years is unprecedented in the history of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society,’’ Thomas J. Lyons, chairman of the Boston Medal of Honor Convention Host Committee, said in a statement. “The service and sacrifices they have made on behalf of the nation, and their unwavering support for our men and women in uniform, is awe inspiring.’’

John R. Ellement can be reached at ellement@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.

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