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Remembering a forgotten war

Veterans, military groups and politicians gathered July 27 to observe the 60th anniversary of the Korean Armistice Agreement.

Long known as the “forgotten war,” the Korean Conflict has not officially ended.

The armistice was designed to stop hostilities until a final settlement was achieved.

No settlement has ever been reached, and Korea remains a hot spot to this very day.

South Korea has recovered since the war to become one of the more vibrant economies in the world, while North Korea maintains its communist state with a repressed economy and little outside contact.

A procession of hard line leaders in North Korea have issued threats of nuclear retaliation at the merest threat to their security, whether real or imagined, somewhat the same as the Cold War between America and Soviet Russia for decades following World War II.

Sandwiched as it was between World War II and the Vietnam War, the Korean War and the veterans who fought there have been somewhat forgotten.

The fighting was no less fierce and sometimes over political objectives which changed hands more often than not purely on the whim of faraway politicians.

Our soldiers and airmen had to endure extreme weather conditions found on the Korean peninsula, from boiling hot summers to winters so extreme bare skin would stick to metal, and against a ruthless enemy that attacked to the haunting sound of a bugle.

Outnumbered on many occasions, they would achieve their objective only to be told to abandon it, yet take it again in a sort of deadly tug of war reminiscent of Vietnam more than a decade later.

President Harry Truman relieved General Douglas MacArthur of his duties when the combative military genius marched toward the Yalu River and the Chinese border much like Caesar’s Rubicon.

That action may have avoided a scenario not unlike World War III, but no side has backed down since, with troops from North Korea and South Korea staring each other down across a narrow demilitarized zone.

I have had the privilege and honor of interviewing several veterans from the forgotten war, including an airman who flew low level bombing missions in the dark of night, and a tanker who saw close quarter action during one of Korea’s bitterly cold winters.

To those warriors and all veterans who may not have come home to a hero’s welcome, I give a hearty salute.

You are not forgotten.