Korean War vets made sacrifices

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 2, 2006

To the Editor:

Local Korean War veterans held their quarterly meeting Wednesday, Sept. 27, at the Pancake House. It is always an honor for me to be invited to their gathering. Although I’m not a Korean War veteran myself, they know my concerns for veterans of all wars.

The meeting attendees were “Whet” Wilkinson, Frank Bolen, Lewis Troha, Charles Pollack, Leonard McCary, Jeff Ratcliffe, Don Carter and myself. After the usual pleasantries of “How are you?” “How is the family?” etc., the conversations shift to the war and their participation. Much of this meeting was spent on just surviving in the bitter cold of Korea. Things we take for granted just wasn’t available to them and if it had been it too would have been frozen. Interestingly, just eating a meal of c-rations required some effort and determination. Of course, the canned rations with liquids were frozen complicating even having a decent battlefield meal.

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It is a wonderful lesson in history just listening to their experiences on the battlefield. It is history worthy of classrooms throughout the free world. They tell of hardships that only they or someone who has experienced it can comprehend. The bitter cold of Korea took its toll on those who were there. All recall the frozen landscape and the American ingenuity it took in order to survive. Where a simple peanut butter sandwich and cup of hot coffee were incentive enough to entice volunteers for missions.

As one man recalled, “I’ve never been so cold in all my life.” If you can imagine being so uncomfortable and yet having to function or be killed, perhaps freedom will be more meaningful.

The point I’d like to convey is there was no shortage of sacrifice or valor in the Korean War. Our men gave an accounting of themselves in the finest of American tradition. As I looked across the table at the now leathery faces of those who served during that horrific struggle, the grit and determination needed to prevail in warfare is still evident in each face.

The need to remember, recognize and pay tribute to these men is very important. It is important for their stories to be told. It is also important that the coming generation understand why they are free and to whom they owe their freedom.

James G. Smith, Public Relations Officer

The American Legion Post 20