The forgotten Victory

Published 6:06 pm Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The forgotten Victory



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I heard a Korean Veteran repeat what he had told a Vietnam Veteran, “At least when you came home you got spat on, they acknowledged you, for us, when I returned it was, ‘Where have you been?’”

The Korean War has been penned the ‘Forgotten War’.

On June 25, 1950 North Korean troops serving under a communist rule invaded South Korea in a bloody and destructive onslaught. It is the 60th anniversary of the beginning of what would take a large toll of our men and women.

Growing up in South Mississippi in the sixties and early seventies, I did not have real knowledge of the Korean War until I watched the comedy series M.A.S.H.  Even between the lines of silliness and antics, I began to understand the seriousness of the unknown conflict. I was intrigued.

You ask a Korean War Veteran about the show and their reactions are mixed. For many the series was an insult. There was nothing funny about war. Yet, others could laugh, could see the inaccuracies but understood, it was for entertainment only.

At 18, I went to South Korea and my eyes were amazingly opened. My appreciation for the Korean people and their tumultuous history was engaged. However, their food — not so embraced.

For a bit of perspective, today the casualty count for the Operation Iraqi Freedom conflict is 4356 United  States service people. The number goes significantly higher for the Korean War – 36,940. (There are reports that go as high as 54,246.) The conflict lasted three years ending with a ceasefire in 1953. Short and violent, leaving over a hundred thousand wounded Americans and millions of Koreans dead and their country ravaged and decimated, this was a harsh war.

My hometown saw the whole Picayune football team load up on a train as the call for the 138th Engineer Pontoon Bridge Company under the Picayune National Guard was sounded and local heroes as young as 17 went to serve their country. Names like Ezell Lee, Dale Holloway, Paul Merrill, Eulas Mitchell, Brady Richardson, John P. Walker, Gwendell Pearson, D.W. Gillis are some of those who served in different ways in various branches of military.

It may be just a list of names to you as you read this, but to those who remember these men, it is an honor for any acknowledgment of their time given. Their service is not forgotten.

Private Willie York was the first Picayune man to die in action who volunteered for front line duty. He was a World War II Veteran who had served in the Navy. He would not be the last to die for his country in the Korean conflict.

Our country has made great improvements concerning honoring their heroes, celebrating their returns. Thankfully it is politically correct to do so. Fallen soldiers have had parades of citizens waving their flags along the route of their return. The media cameras are rolling when a collective group of soldiers return home after a long deployment. We love the giant smiles, the tight embraces, the tears, and the screams of joy. That is America.

We can still do better.

As stated many times, just a sight of a soldier makes my heart beam. A sighting of an elderly man with his Veteran cap makes me cross the lines of decorum and give out a thank you to this perfect stranger. Try not to startle them though; they are getting on in their years. I may have frightened one or two in my enthusiasm. But once they get pass the shock, these older soldiers are very grateful.

It is wonderful to just to be acknowledged. Soldiers don’t go for the great glory and rewards of being a hero because that doesn’t really amount to much. These are special people who as young men, during the call to war, lie about their ages and jump on the train with their buddies. They sacrifice time with loved ones, comforts of home, and their healthy bodies. What makes a soldier tick?

For most, they don’t serve for money or a career promise. But the very little they ask is to be remembered.

How many of you even knew this week was the 60th anniversary of the Korean War?

In South Korea, they still face a monumental evil to the north. Recently, a ship was torpedoed by North Korea and over a hundred crew men were killed.

As a Lord of the Rings fan, I recall the scene where Pippin and Gandalf stand on the balcony which overlooks the growing flame of doom from Mordor, knowing that the world war of middle Earth was about to hit the fan. Do we stand now, looking over a balcony toward a growing flame of doom? A nuclear flame in the hands of crazed man?

In Seoul, you are very near the line that is drawn in the sand. When I was there in 1982, just a loud boom made you think twice. Today, I hear many booms because I live near an arsenal, but not once do I think that I am in danger, or that Tennessee has decided to invade.

Should we be concerned? The cry from the North has resurrected the ‘Death to the U.S. Imperialist Aggressors.’ As the ailing Kim Jong II continues to find friends in all the low places such as Iran, Syria and Myanmar, (not to mention any terrorist group of all persuasions) he begins to be like the cowardly lion, all puffed up with confidence, and sounding off with big bad talk. Meanwhile, he continues to pursue nuclear weaponry so that he can back up his bully ways.

Will there be a sequel to the Korean War?

After sixty years, the blood of our soldiers has seen much benefit with the thriving country of South Korea. It was not in vain. A generation of folks has seen peace, although a nervous peace, no real conflict has resurrected its head, only the promise of it.

The line is still there,   it hasn’t moved an inch. I call that a success. I call that a victory.

Let it be a remembered victory and not a forgotten war.

God bless our Korean Veterans and thank you for your sacrifice.

Tracy Williams is a syndicated columnist and can be reached at her website: or become a fan on Face book at My Hometown Column.