This story is written in memory of, and in honor of, all Korean War veterans. I have the honor of telling local veteran stories each week, to not only honor each veteran, but to help the readers understand the sacrifice each and every veteran makes to serve our country. Many family members have contacted me after their family's veteran's story had been told. Some were amazed and other stated that they never knew or understood the things their loved ones had seen or even had done while in service to this great country.
I, myself, had never seen a Korean battlefield or witnessed a Korean winter. However, I did spend four hours in Incheon, near Seoul, Korea's main airport. I have been 42 miles from the border on the 38th parallel while on a return trip to Vietnam. The only knowledge of Korea I have is what I have heard from local Korean veterans, read in books, or seen on TV watching the History Channel.
As I look back I can understand why they called it the Forgotten War. My father was a Korean veteran and a World War II veteran, but never would talk about Korea. It was only when we were having a few beers together he would talk of his experiences from World War II. In high school, we may have spent an hour on the Korean War in our history class.
Later on at Parris Island Marine Corps boot camp, after being told of the Marine Corps battle tactics used during World War II at Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Tarawa, and Okinawa, Marine Corp history of Korea was cut short to learn the new tactics that were needed in this new, hot, weather jungle war we were being trained to fight.
I have talked to a few area Korean War veterans, asking if I could honor them by doing their story. They declined my offer, but I felt the Korean War story must be told? This war, from its first to last day claimed 15 American lives, each and every day. This war, called a "police action" by our president is a war that to this day has never ended. It's still exactly where it was in 1953.
The Korean vet who just came home continued on. This story should be told to let the readers and U.S. citizens know exactly what went on in that peninsula during the war. One soldier's story says that we the U.S. weren't stopped at the 38th parallel by the enemy. We the U.S. soldiers were stopped at the 38th parallel by our government. The information below is from research I've found from books, TV, Internet and Korean veterans.
The Korean War - A proxy war. A war in which both sides were sponsored by external powers. The first war when the United States did not segregate its units by race.
Helicopter War - Korea was the first war that introduced the helicopter on the battlefield. There were six different helicopters used by each military branch along with the C.I.A. The introduction of the helicopter saved many lives by cutting the time needed to transport wounded soldiers from the battlefield to the surgical table. Medical help was done immediately in record time.
M.A.S.H. - Mobile Army Surgical Hospital. This was used with the helicopter. These temporary surgical hospitals placed near the front lines provided emergency surgery to severely wounded soldiers. Most soldiers treated either were sent back to their unit in three days, or sent to Tokyo, Japan depending on the injury. The M.A.S.H. units were not intended for long term hospital stays. These hospitals were staffed with surgical doctors and nurses with qualified personnel capable of administering immediate aid to the fallen soldier.
Names given to the Korean War:
North Korean Names
The Korean War was a military conflict between the Republic of Korea, supported by the United Nations, and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea,supported by the by the People's Republic of China (PRC) and material aid from the Soviet Union.
The Korean War began with a mobile campaign of swift infantry attacks by the north followed by an air bombing campaign that led to trench warfare fighting. This was similar to World War II tactics.
The war's official start was at 0400 hours on June 25, 1950. The war was a result of the physical division of Korea by an agreement of the victorious allies at the conclusion of the Pacific War, the end of World War II.
Korea was ruled by Japan from 1910 to the end of World War II. After Japan's surrender in 1945, American administrators divided the peninsula along the 38th parallel. The U.S. claimed the south and the Soviet Union received the north.
It was the failure to hold free elections in the peninsula in 1948 that deepened the division between the two sides which resulted with the 38th parallel being the dividing point between the democratic free South Korea and the communist government, North Korean side. This 38th parallel increasingly became the political border between the two Koreas.
Although reunification negotiations continued in the months preceding the war, tensions increased with cross border skirmishes and raids at the 38th parallel. The situation escalated into the open warfare when North Korean forces invaded the south on June 25, 1950. This was the first significant armed conflict of the war.
The United Nations, mainly the U.S., came to the aid of South Korea in repelling the raid of June 25, 1950. The U.N. counter offensive drove the North Koreans past the 38th parallel to the Yalu River. This brought in the People's Republic of China to aid the north. With the Chinese aiding the north, the U.N. forces were pushed back to the 38th parallel.
North Korea with manpower from China and materials of war from the Soviet Union, now felt it had the power to take over the entire country. They pushed the United Nations out and formed a new communist country in the whole Korea.
In 1953 the war ceased with an armistice that resulted with the border between the Koreas set at the 38th parallel. This created the Korean demilitarized zone. This demilitarized zone is a strip of land 2.5 miles wide that divides the two countries. Minor outbreaks occur even to this day with the full understanding from both sides that this 2.5 miles belongs to no one side and anyone entering it without permission from both sides is considered to be the enemy. While in it, it becomes a free fire zone, in which anyone entering it is presumed to be the enemy from the other side.
NEXT WEEK: A look at the numbers behind the Korean War.
- Submitted by John Fedyszyn, Fredonia