Celebrating Mutual Respect Between American Veterans and South Korean People

DSC_0982The Upstate Chapters of the Korean War Veterans Association sponsored a Friendship Luncheon in Greenville Saturday to celebrate the mutual respect that exists between the American Veterans of the Korean War and the people of the Republic of South Korea. This was the second time the annual event has been held.

Gerry Kunz, outgoing president of the association was master of ceremonies. Heung Soo Kim, Deputy Consul General of the Republic of Korea in Atlanta, was guest speaker.

Deputy Consul Kim thanked the American veterans for their sacrifices for the Korean people. He discussed the strong bonds between the United States and the Republic of Korea since the war and the miraculous conversion of South Korea, as a military and economic partner with the United States, from one of the poorest countries on earth to one of the most prosperous.

Frank Tooley of Greer was presented a special award during the luncheon. Tooley, along with other members of his unit, was captured by the Communist forces from the north and held prisoner in North Korea for several years. Mrs. Angela Lee provided special music, including both the U. S. and Korean National Anthems. Mrs. Lee became a Naturalized American Citizen in 1986.

Rev. Jungho Kim presented the Invocation and Benediction.

The Korean War is sometimes referred to as the “Forgotten War.” The Korean War veterans are a by-product of that war and are also forgotten by many. A group of Korean War veterans in Greenville don’t want their fallen friends from the Upstate to be forgotten.

At 4 am. on the morning of June 25, 1950, seven divisions of North Korean Communist troops crossed the 38th Parallel in a surprise attack  and invasion of South Korea. The United States with token support from 20 other nations responded to the attack.

Politicians and the liberal media labeled the fighting in Korea a “conflict” and a “police action,” but for those men who fought there, it was “war” and “war is hell.”

Nearly 37,000 Americans lost their lives in Korea. Another 100,000 were wounded and 6,877 became prisoners of war. More than 8,000 remain unaccounted for and are MIA today.

Another special portion of the luncheon program was a report by Lew Perry, Chairman of the local Korean War Veterans Association Memorial Committee.

The committee has a goal of $18,000 to complete the monument they have designed. In addition to accepting cash donations, the committee is selling brick that will display the name of a veteran to be honored at the memorial.  The cost of a single brick is $50 two bricks are $75.

The committee is seeking a high-traffic location that will be visible to families and young people. Perry said veterans don’t necessarily need to see the monument, however, “We want children to learn about the sacrifices of war.”

Inquiries have been made regarding a site at Falls Park, but the City has not appeared interested in discussing locating a Memorial to Korean War veterans in that part of the city.

Perry said he gets “hot under the collar” when people use the excuse that they can’t donate to the monument fund because “times are tough.”

“I would like to tell them that we are not collecting money to plant flowers or trees in the city. We are building a memorial to honor all the men and women who served in the bloodiest and coldest war on record and to the memory of those whose lives were lost there. And unless they were in your boots, they aren’t likely to know the meaning of tough times.

“I figure if they didn’t know that or had forgotten like most of America, I wouldn’t change their mind – So, being the gentleman that I am, I didn’t insult anyone. I just turned evangelist and gave them one of these tracts.”

He held up a brochure that explains the monument project and the finances needed.

More information may be obtained by going to the website at www.koreanvets301.com, or calling a committee member at (864) 574-5569, 363-5568, 877-9998, 399-2658, or 234-9707.

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Mike Scruggs