At this time of year here in South Carolina and all across the nation, Korean War Veterans will remember the outbreak of the Korean War June 25th, 1950.
Because the Korean War came about on the heels of WWII, and because we were not directly attacked, ie: Pearl Harbor, many people, and our Government, could not accept the need to go to war in Korea. For that reason, and for the 70 years that have followed, it is still regarded as the “Forgotten War” denying our Korean War Veterans the honor and respect they have earned.
THE KOREAN WAR began at 5:00 am on June 25, 1950 when seven crack divisions, (135,000), of Russian trained and Russian equipped troops of the North Korean Peoples Army (NKPA) stormed across the 38th parallel, without warning, to invade the Republic of South Korea and overtake the capital city of Seoul. When the word reached Washington, President Truman and the UN declared “this is war against the United Nations”. The United States was asked to take the lead, along with 20 other allied nations, to stop the North Korean attack. Korea was a WAR that America did not want to fight, but it was a WAR we had to fight. The United States had accepted the role of leadership for the entire free world against Communism and the Soviet Union.
It was not a POLICE ACTION, It was a WAR. The bulk of the UN forces to serve in Korea would be Americans, whose peak strength reached 348,000. Of the 5.7 million in uniform during the WAR, at least 1.5 million were rotated in and out of Korea. More than 37,000 American GI’s lost their lives, (KIA), another 100,000 were wounded, (WIA), 6,877 became Prisoners of War (POW). More than 8,000 remain unaccounted for today (MIA). The Republic of Korea’s army (ROK) reached a strength of 590,911 and suffered 272,975 casualties, wounded or killed in action. FREEDOM IS NOT FREE.
Still fresh in their memories, Korean War veterans share their stories of the Inchon Landing, Battle of Osan, and Taejon, Battle of the Notch, , Battle of the Chosin Reservoir, Operation Thunderbolt, Battle of Hill 440, Battle for the Punchbowl, Battle of Bloody Ridge, Heartbreak Ridge, Battle for Old Baldy, Bunker Hill, Battle of Porkchop Hill, Battle of the Hook, T-Bone Hill, and the POW camps, run by the North Koreans or the Chinese.
The United States won the war in Korea, not with an unconditional surrender as in WWII, instead with a flimsy Armistice agreement, considered fragile even today, with the unpredictable tensions still in the North. We still have more than 30,000 troops in South Korea and still guarding the demilitarized zone (DMZ).
Korean War Veterans have organized more than 300 local Chapters across the country. They are chartered by the National 14,000 member Korean War Veterans Association (KWVA). Membership includes Veterans of all branches of the Armed Forces, who have seen honorable service, anywhere, during the Korean War (1950-1953) and at any other time, including to the present, in the defense of the Republic of South Korea. For further information visit the KWVA website. http://www.kwva.org.
Since there is no wall of names for the Korean War Memorial in Washington, DC, members of the National KWVA lobbied Congress to pass the HR 1475 authorizing a wall. In 2016 President Obama signed the bill for the wall providing it be built with private funds only, not using any taxpayer monies.
To insure engraving the names of 576 South Carolina men and women Killed in Action (KIA) the Foothills Chapter #301 is working to raise a goal of $200,000. They have raised $141,000 and are hoping with your help to raise the balance before the end of the year.
Your tax deductible donation, ear marked Wall Of Remembrance, should be mailed to KWVA Chapter #301, Sec/Treasurer Cynthia Perry,150 Middleton Park Lane, Moore, SC 29369.
Portions of this article were taken from the book “A BRIEF ACCOUNT OF THE KOREAN WAR” with permission by the author, Korean War veteran, Jack D. Walker.
Lew Perry is a Korean War Veteran, U.S. Navy. He is founder and current President of the Korean War Veterans Association Foothills Chapter #301.