FORT HOOD — “My challenge to you — you veterans of the Korean War — is tell your story,” said Col. Timothy M. Karcher, “because being the quiet professional yields a forgotten war.”
Karcher has served in the military for 23 years and was the guest speaker for the Korean War Veterans Banquet on Saturday night at Club Hood.
The Korean War Veterans Association, Chapter 222, hosted the banquet to celebrate and honor the 60th anniversary of the Korean War.
“A lot of history is here. Veterans from the Korean War and WWII are here. POWs [prisoners of war] are here,” said Fermin Cantu, the local KWVA chairman. “We do this to honor the veterans for their service.”
Guest speakers, attendees and veterans often referred to the Korean War as the “Forgotten War.” It was the war that took 30 years to honor veteran Victor Zavala with the Korean Defense Service medal. He served in the U.S. military for 20 years and four months and retired as a sergeant first class.
Zavala was an 18-year-old private when he was stationed in Korea from 1977 to 1978.
“I would go to the airport to talk to my sister and she would ask if I was fine,” said Zavala. “I would say, ‘Yes. I’m OK.’ But she knew I wasn’t. I couldn’t tell anybody what I was doing in Korea.”
According to “A Brief Account of the Korean War” by Jack D. Walker, North Korea invaded and launched artillery in South Korea on the morning of June 25, 1950. During the years of 1947 and 1948, North and South Korea were divided by the 38th parallel.
Kim Il Sung, premier of North Korea, wanted to unite Korea, but he could not do so until U.S. troops withdrew from South Korea. The U.S. troops provided government aid and relief in occupied areas to the south in 1945, but these funds expired in 1949. Soon, rumors of North Korea invading the South arose.
On July 4, 1950, the U.S. initiated its involvement in the Korean War by airlifting troops from Japan to Korea.
There are still 28,000 U.S. troops stationed in South Korea, said Brig. Gen. Clark W. LeMasters, commander, 13th Sustainment Command.
“History doesn’t always tell the truth,” said Zavala.“The armistice of 1953 didn’t end the war. It just ceased fire. We’re still in Korea.”