On October 5th, veterans of the Korean War gathered at the Korean War Veterans Memorial to honor the sacrifices of those who fell during the Korean conflict. (Click on image to see the photo collection.)
Gen. Walter L. Sharp renders honors (DOD photo)
The Korean War was a brutal one. Begun by a mass invasion by North Korean forces in June of 1950, the war became a desperate battle for survival by South Korean and UN forces as the Allies were quickly and steadily pushed back. By August of 1950, just a couple of months after the invasion began, only a small foothold on the Pusan Peninsula prevented a complete takeover of the country.
In September General MacArthur’s forces conducted the surprise landing at Inchon that cut off the overextended People’s Republic of Korea (PRK) army.
A month later, the U.S. Army had pushed the PRK army all the way back – not only to the 38th parallel, but all the way through North Korea toward its own northern border.
When the Chinese Army joined forces with North Korea, the surge reversed itself again and UN forces fell back across the 38th parallel.
The next two years – in contrast to the first year when huge swaths of territory changed hands – were dominated by a stalemate, although fighting continued (half the casualties of the war took place in the latter two years). In July of 1953 an uneasy cease fire was signed, effectively halting combat operations and returning the border to about the same place that it had been before the invasion.
To study an excellent timeline of the war, click here.
Since the cease fire, American troops have maintained a presence in South Korea, keeping a vigil on a war that never officially ended.
Our Korean War veterans are in their late seventies and early eighties now. Next year will mark the sixtieth anniversary of the beginning of the war, and those veterans deserve to hear our loud and heartfelt thanks for the sacrifices they made, enduring horrible conditions to save a young republic from annihilation.
They are our heroes of the week.
[Atrocities were commonplace, and there were many massacres reported during the course of the war. There were many accounts of unarmed prisoners being murdered and treated brutally. Many of those stories have been lost to time, except to those who witnessed them and survived. For example, in August of 1950, 42 American prisoners of war were gunned down by North Korean regulars on a small rise of land near banks of the Naktong River called Hill 303. The account of the incident is chilling (click here). Miraculously, four men survived, being mistaken for dead.]