Korean War veterans honored at air museum program
Veterans of “The Forgotten War: Korea” were remembered on Saturday during a special patriotic program held in their honor at the Dakota Territory Air Museum in Minot.
Twenty Korean War veterans and their families from Minot and area along with others listened as Trygve Hammer, Velva, a retired U.S. Marine Corps major and guest speaker at the event, talked about the war the U.S. entered into in 1950.
According to historical information, the Korean War was sparked on June 25, 1950, when members of the North Korean People’s Army invaded South Korea. The line they crossed, the 38th parallel, was created in 1945 to separate the Soviet-supported Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (now North Korea and the U.S.-supported Republic of Korea to the South. On June 27, 1950, President Truman ordered U.S. forces to South Korea. The Korean War armistice signed on July 27, 1953, drew a new border between North Korea and South Korea. A formal peace treaty was never signed.
“It did not end with anything like a V-J Day with celebrations in the streets. It did not even end with a peace treaty,” Hammer told the crowd of about 150 people gathered in the air museum’s Flying Legends Hangar where the Korean War veterans and others seated were surrounded on three sides by military aircraft.
“Unlike the Vietnam War that followed, the Korean War was not brought into American living rooms on the evening news. There were no massive protests against the war on American streets,” Hammer continued.
In 1984, he said journalist Studs Terkel published an oral history on World War II titled “The Good War.” He said that title seemed to fit other wars and especially the forgotten Korean War. Today, Hammer said, South Korea is vibrant and free but in North Korea people are suffering under the world’s most repressive regime.
“The evidence is clear – Americans who fought in Korea were fighting on the side of good,” Hammer said.
He said the Korean War was the first war under the Department of Defense instead of the War Department and with the United States Air Force as a service separate from the Army.
“It was the first war fought under the new paradigm of the Cold War,” he also noted.
There were other firsts during the Korean War including, “The U.S. military fired more rounds in three years than in the entirety of World War II, and the war marked the first widespread use of helicopters in combat,” Hammer said.
He said the war was filled with iconic military figures from military history. Among them was U.S. Gen. Douglas MacArthur who had personality conflicts with “almost anybody who expected MacArthur to listen to them,” Hammer said.
Hammer said people in the United States are blessed to live in this country and not in a country with a dictator or other such ruling.
Twenty Korean War veterans from Minot and area attended the event including Frank Bice, Kenneth Johnson, Ernie Holscher, Richard Pederson, Gordon Rasmusson, Milton Rolle, Norman Getzlaff, Gordon Wettlaufer, Gordon Christenson, John Danks, Milton Guy, Doug Beck, Englebert Kuntz, Ray Norsby, Donald Hermandson and Andy Bakke, all Army; Richard Gunter, Airborne Army; James Morken, Navy; and Owen Brenden and Daniel Baranick, both Air Force.
Lowell Cormier served as emcee. Others participating in the program included Cristine Cherry and Chanz Kennedy, both Minot Air Force Base, and representatives of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and Auxiliary, American Legion and Disabled American Veterans. A flag folding ceremony, Battlefield Cross presentation and performance of the service songs with presentation of the service flags were included in the program. Members of the VFW Auxiliary presented each Korean War veteran with a special thank you coin. Military reenactors John Sturgill and Graham Maline, both Minot AFB, and the Minot Vet Center also took part in the event sponsored by AVFlight.