War is war

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 31, 2007

To the Editor:

Merriam-Webster defines war as: “A state of usually open and declared armed hostile conflict between states or nations.” Encyclopedia Britannica offers this definition: “State of conflict, generally armed, between two or more entities.” Whichever definition you prefer, the Korean War certainly qualified as a full blown war.

Korean War veterans still bristle when reminded President Harry S. Truman referred to Korea as a “police action.”

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President Truman had his reasons for not calling it a war, and most were political. With all due respect, he should have known this less than candid assessment of the war wouldn’t set well with those fighting and dying in Korea. It still doesn’t set well even after 50 years.

The Korean War veterans of this area held their annual husband and wife luncheon Wednesday, Jan. 24 at the Pancake House in Selma. Moderators for the group, Whet & Joyce Wilkinson, welcomed the attendees, wives and guests. Walter C. Myers accompanied by his wife, Mary, and daughter, Sherilyn, was the featured speaker.

Walter C. Myers recounted his experiences during the first 18 months of the war. Myers’ unit, the 24th Infantry Division, stationed in Japan at the onset of the war, was one of the first to be ferried across the Korea Strait and cast into the fracas.

At first, their role was to slow down the advancement of the North Koreans. They would form a defensive line and fight until almost overwhelmed before retreating to another defensive position.

They kept up the maneuvers until forced to retreat to the very southern tip of Korea. Their courage and bravery, being used as cannon fodder, bought enough time for a build up on the southern tip of Korea known as the Pusan Perimeter.

Frankly, there wasn’t anymore real estate in Korea. The next move would have relinquished the entire Korean peninsula to the communist of North Korea.

Of course, the North Korean assault was stopped at the Pusan Perimeter and later all the South Korean territory reclaimed. Myers’ time in Korea was marked by bitter fighting, rapid advancements even to driving the North Koreans almost into China, and of course, the hasty retreat when overwhelmed by the Chinese entering the war.

President Truman may have called it a “police action” but men like Walter C. Myers begs to differ with his assessment. Call it what you will, but those who experienced it first hand are the real authorities.

The men who fought this war are every much as brave and heroic as any who come before or after. Their service to America, as well as the people of South Korea, is admirable and exemplary of true patriots.

James G. Smith