I wish to thank the Herald for “Remembering Korea” on the front page of Sunday’s newspaper. For much too long, the Korean War (or, as the politicians wanted our citizens to think of it, the Korean “police action”) has been the “forgotten war.” Even those in charge of Veterans Day memorial services seem to always give it as little attention as possible. In the 2010 Veterans Day Observance in Statesboro, a non-Korean War veteran was chosen by the program leaders to represent us, the people who fought in that war, although there were several of us present.
I assure you that the loved ones and friends of the more than 36,000 Americans who died there have not forgotten, even after 60 years. I certainly haven’t forgotten that approximately 60 percent of the men (boys – most of us were 17 or 18 years old) that I trained with in the summer of 1950 were killed within six months following our completion of basic training. I was fortunate to receive additional, specialized training following boot camp, and I didn’t arrive in Korea until December 5, 1951. I spent 13 months there, the last eight or so at the front lines, attached to several different combat units, including, for a time, a Turkish Brigade. I cannot forget that this was a brutally fought war, fighting with weapons left over from World War II. As a non-commissioned officer in charge of a small specialized unit, I served with unusually brave men, many of whom, unlike myself, had been drafted into service.
I cannot forget that my brother, who was stationed in Japan when the North Korean aggressors invaded the South, was among the earliest of our troops to enter the war. His unit fought the enemy all the way up to the Yalu River, which separates North Korea from China, and he was patrolling along that river when the Chinese entered the war. He and his unit were isolated by the Chinese for a period of time before they were able to fight their way south. He was wounded during this retreat, and, although he served our country more than 20 years, he was never the same afterwards.
I cannot forget that many of my buddies died in this war, and many others returned home maimed and crippled. I cannot forget that more than a million South Koreans died during this “police action.” I found the people of South Korea to largely be kind, peace-loving folks, so undeserving of the suffering they have endured. I have not forgotten, nor will I ever, the little children who suffered so much horror.
Were our efforts worth it? I spent 25 years suffering night traumas, wondering about that. Then in 1978 my wife and I went to South Korea, and we were able to see firsthand the progress this wonderful people have made, and are making. Fifty million people enjoying unprecedented prosperity. Yes, I do believe it was worth it!
The Korean War will ever be etched in my mind, but I sincerely thank you for “Remembering Korea,” and for helping our younger generation, hopefully, to understand that it really happened, and it, like other wars, can only be described in the words of General Sherman: “War is h---!”