Koreans Express Appreciation for American Sacrifices for Their Freedom
Upstate chapters of the Korean War Veterans Association joined together Saturday in remembrance of the 60th Anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War, June 25th, 1950. The event revolved around a buffet luncheon at the Phoenix Inn in Greenville. Several natives of Korea who are now naturalized American citizens attended and participated in the program.
Reverend Peter Chong, pastor of All Nations Full Gospel Church opened the program with the Invocation.
The U. S. and Republic Of Korea National Anthems were sung by Mrs. Angela Lee. The blessing was led by Reverend Seung Lee, pastor of the First Korean Baptist Church in Greer.
Following the luncheon, Gerry Kunz, President of Chapter # 301 Korean War Veterans Association welcomed attendees and introduced special guests.
Ms. Sara Yoon read a letter from the President of the Republic of Korea thanking Korean War Veterans for their sacrifices for the freedom and prosperity of the people of the Republic of Korea.
The special guest speaker for the occasion was LTC Marion C. James, a native South Carolinian and current Command Inspector General for the Combat Training Center at Ft. Jackson, South Carolina. LTC James was assigned to the U. S. Command in Korea from 1995 until 1997. He is also a veteran of the Iraq War.
The Benediction was led by Reverend Robert Philyaw, Commander of Chapter #244 Korean War Veterans Association and Pastor of First Baptist Church, Due West, South Carolina.
Communists took control of North Korea in 1948 and South Korea had a freely elected government. Communist forces invaded the South hoping to force a communist government on their neighbors.
The South was ill-prepared for war and the United States and troops from 14 allied countries came to the rescue of South Korea. As the communist forces were being driven back into their own territory, the Chinese Communist Army joined the battle.
General Douglas McArthur was commander of U. S. and allied forces. He wanted to drive into China and free that large nation from the tyranny of Communism, however, President Truman was opposed to invading Chinese territory and relieved General McArthur of his command. Peace talks took place for the next 2 years and 17 days. Some 575 meetings took place before an agreement to establish a demilitarized zone along the 38th Parallel was reached and open hostilities ceased. A state of war continues to exist between North and South Korea to this day.
The United States suffered 169,365 casualties in the “forgotten Korean war” that was sandwiched between World War II and the Vietnam War. More than 33,000 Americans were killed in action, 103,284 were wounded, 8,196 were missing in action and 3,746 were captured and became prisoners of war. At least one of those Korean War POW’s, Frank Tooley of Greer, attended the event Saturday.
Korea suffered almost a million casualties during the war that ended on July 27, 1953.
During the 60 years following the war, South Korea has prospered in freedom and North Korea has struggled economically as a totalitarian closed society, dependent on China and Russia for support and spending most of its financial resources on military hardware, while the people suffer in poverty.
For some of the aging combat veterans, it was a somber occasion to remember traumatic events that are sometimes best forgotten. There were also joyful moments, such as the emotional chance meeting of an infantryman whose unit had been surrounded by a large enemy force during the Korean War and a member of the tank unit that rescued them from certain death or capture.