Martin C. Evans

S. Korea remembers “The Forgotten War”

In Korean War on December 21, 2009 at 2:27 pm

The sacrifices of Korean War soldiers were largely forgotten by history. This grim photo is attributed to a Sgt. Turnbull, of the Signal Corps.

It may be known as the “forgotten war,” but South Koreans are helping to mark next year’s 60th anniversary of the Korean War by helping U.S. veterans who fought there to visit the once-embattled peninsula.

The South Korean government is planning to expand a 34-year-old program that subsidizes the cost for Korean War vets who want to return to the country were 36,940 U.S. troops were killed in an intense, 3-year conflict.

Jack Mitchell, 80, of Hampton Bays, says vets should take up the offer like he did.

Starting in June, the program will pay for hotels, meals and in-country travel, plus a portion of the round-trip airfare to South Korea for veterans and a travel companion, according to tour organizers.

That would represent an increase in the cost covered by the South Korean government, which since 1975 paid the in-country costs of the estimated 20,000 Korean War vets who returned under the program, but required traveling vets and their companion to pay the entire airfare.

Mitchell traveled to South Korea with the program this past summer, and says it made him proud of his wartime service.

“Seeing the country, which has been an absolute shambles in 1953, left me feeling that if I had done nothing else in my life, I could feel proud of what I had done then,” said Mitchell, a retired vice president of marketing at Nabisco.

“In the minds of the American public and even a lot of the men who served with me, the war was not won,” said Mitchell, who had been an infantryman during the twar. “But my visit totally disabused me of that.”

Last year, veterans  paid about $2,000 in total costs for a six-day trip, said Warren Wiedhahn, of Military Historical Tours, a Virginia-based company that helps arrange travel for the program.

Wiedhahn, a retired Marine colonel who founded the company, said the cost will be less this year because the Korean government has promised to pay a yet to be determined portion of the cost of air tickets.

Interested veterans may call 800 722-9501, or 703 590-1296. They may also go to the Korean War Veterans Association website, or to www.miltours.com.

The Korean War – which served as a capitalist-communist proxy war pitting the United States against China and the Soviet Union – began when troops from North Korea invaded South Korea on June 25, 1950. A jittery peace has existed since a July 27, 1953 armistice, though North Korea restored a technical state of war earlier this year by withdrawing from the armistice.

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  1. I would like to thank all the Vets who fought in the Korean War. It was because of your bravery and sacrafice that I and many Koreans are living the life we can. It is a shame that it had to happen at all but when there was need you were there… and I salute you. Lest we Forget.

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