Herald/Steven Doll - Capt. Chun Yoo, 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, performs the national anthem of South Korea during the Korean War Veterans Association’s annual “Remembering our Veterans” Banquet on Saturday at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center.

By Philip Jankowski

Killeen Daily Herald

The Korean War is sometimes referred to as the forgotten war.

Over shadowed by conflicts like World War II and Vietnam, many can forget that between 1950 and 1953 more than 50,000 Americans gave their lives in a nation that was to some soldiers a complete unknown.

Korean War veteran retired U.S. Army Capt. Isabelino Vazquez-Rodriguez pointed to the successes of South Korea today as a focus point.

"The sacrifices of our veterans and the Korean civilians was not in vain. Today South Korea is a free nation," Vazquez-Rodriguez said.

His remarks came during the fourth annual "Remembering our Veterans" banquet hosted by the local Korean War Veterans Association. Vazquez-Rodriguez is the author of the book "Proud to Serve My Country" and gave the keynote address at the banquet. He served in the Korean War in 1951 and 1952.

More than 280 attendees listened as Vazquez-Rodriguez spoke of the sacrifices made during the war that ultimately led to the creation and development of South Korea. The nation was devastated during the war, but now has built a level of economic stability that ranks it as the 15th largest economy in the world.

Several members of the local Korean community were on hand for the banquet.

Seoung R. Lim, president of the Korean Society, addressed the crowd, speaking of how the Korean community has found a home in Killeen. He noted that during a recent vacation that took him to several small towns in the western U.S., he and his family often felt like they were outsiders.

It was the watching eyes of small-town locals that made him realize how welcome he feels in Killeen.

"Killeen is truly our hometown," Lim said. "It is a wonderful city for my family."

After a few more speakers, Vazquez-Rodriguez began his speech.

Though he chronicled the successes of South Korea and the bravery of soldiers in the conflict, Vazquez-Rodriguez ended with a cautionary note. He called for the end of a troubling pattern seen after the U.S. ends conflicts.

He noted that the U.S. tends to dismantle military resources after conflicts are over.

"If we had finished the job in Korea like we should have, today North Korea will not be creating problems for South Korea and the United States," he said.

It was part cautionary tale and part reminder that the Korean War may be forgotten by some, but the conflict is still ongoing.

Contact Philip Jankowski at philipj@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7553.

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