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Informal talks underway for Korean War veterans memorial in southeast Wash.

One of the statues at the Korean War Memorial in Washington, D.C.

MEREDITH TIBBETTS/STARS AND STRIPES

By ANNIE CHARNLEY EVELAND | Walla Walla Union-Bulletin, Wash. | Published: June 20, 2020

(Tribune News Service) — Few Americans even knew where Korea was when the U.S. and allied forces took up weapons against the North Koreans who invaded South Korea, wrote U.S. Army surgeon Richard Hooker in his 1968 novel, "MASH."

The New York Times in 2018 notes the Korean War, fought between June 25, 1950, and July 27, 1953, has been referred to in the U.S. as "the Forgotten War." Coverage of the war was censored and it was overshadowed by World War II and the Vietnam War, the Times reported.

As far as is known, 14 U.S. Army, Air Force and Marine Corps personnel from Walla Walla County died in the war. But as yet there isn't a local memorial for these warriors.

The 70th anniversary of the North Korean invasion of South Korea with 135,000 combat troops is June 25. Four days later, the first U.S. ground troops arrived in Korea with 35 men of the 507th Anti-aircraft Artillery Automatic Weapons Battalion, said Neil Jacobson of College Place.

About 5 million U.S. soldiers served in the conflict over the next three years with 40,000 soldiers killed and some 100,000 wounded.

"So what does this have to do with Walla Walla? Much the same thing as almost every city in America – precious family members who stepped up to serve their country, but didn't come home," Neil said.

"One truly never dies unless forgotten," is inscribed on many military monuments that honor the fallen, including the World War II memorial in Fort Walla Walla Park.

American Legion Walter C. Lee Post members voted to remember and honor the known members of Walla Walla County who gave their all, said Neil, who serves as post adjutant.

Listed on the National Archives website, although possibly incomplete, are:

Air Force

  • 1st Lt. James Edward Arnold

Army

  • 1st Lt. Robert Griffith Hunt
  • Capt. Charles J. Hastings
  • Sgt. 1st Class Gordon J. Gettman
  • Sgt. Edward L. Kennedy
  • Cpl. Bobbie G. Martin
  • Pfc. William R. Sigler
  • Pvt. William C. Bourke
  • Pvt. Billie J. Dutton
  • Pvt. Alfred C. Meek

Marine Corps

  • 1st Lt. David Scott Taylor
  • 2nd Lt. Morris Fredrick Reisinger
  • Pfc. William Kenneth Erdman
  • Pfc. Arthur Lee Ross

Readers are encouraged to contact the post with information regarding additional names of soldiers who served in Korea between June 25, 1950-July 27, 1953, and were Walla Walla County residents at some time prior to enlistment.

Some early, informal conversations have taken place to reveal a distinct interest in having a Korean War memorial.

At an appropriate time, discussions will resume, Neil said, because the focus right now is to complete the Gold Star Family Memorial project.

They then plan to dedicate whatever time and effort it will take to bring the Korean War memorial to fruition, which includes researching the stories of each service member. They are currently in the process of doing so for World War II personnel. 

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