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Korea, the forgotten war

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Letter to the editor by Bill Ford

By Bill Ford

It’s become apparent that Korea is “The Forgotten War.” The other day on TV I heard the commentator lament that World War I and World War II were fought and had the values of a more resilient and understandable people. With that I agree. But, if one will recall, many of the “Warriors” who fought in World War II were also called up to fight in the Korean War. There were two who were called up who served in the print shop. By the way their jobs were not waiting for them after the war.

We should realize there were more of our service men and women lost in the Korean War than Iraq and Afghanistan combined. It’s also been commented that after WWII, we went to Vietnam. Duh, where’s Korea. Now Vietnam’s one of the stupidest mistakes we’ve ever made along with Iraq and Afghanistan. Veterans of Vietnam seemed to be the turning point in military discipline and country support of American troops. Drugs were rampant in Vietnam and those soldiers returning, exemplified the term, “Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome,” which is carried through to the present wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This was not a factor in the character of service men and women in wars previous to Vietnam. I had a son-in-law who served in Vietnam and that is one source of what I speak. Unfortunately, even taking up the church and being a minister could not save him. Violent behavior and drugs took too much of a hold on him. The poppy fields were killing fields and still are.

Of course I served during Korea, first a stint in the Pentagon and then two years aboard the USS Leyte CV 32. The Leyte, after being one of the first carriers to serve in Korea and losing the first Navy pilot, went on to serve in the Atlantic theater. Being a printer, it was my job to print the Memorial Service programs for the pilots and airmen who were killed. It’s a horrible sight to see a Panther Jet just explode off the port quarter, yes, just explode for no reason at all. I’ve printed 12 of those Memorial Service programs. 

Then many of you might remember when the Leyte was being decommissioned at the Boston Navy Yard, in November 1953, the starboard (right) catapult exploded while being tested and killed 34 sailors and 6 civilian workers. I lost two close friends that day. It was hell.

My point is, let’s start giving credit where credit was due. There are those, Vietnam veterans in particular who say Korea was a policing action. Bull pucky. Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan are all wars in which we should not have participated. If we look back to Korea, China was the bad guy, in Vietnam, the French got out as they knew something we didn’t, you couldn’t win and of the last two, just call them George’s wars.

So, when talking veterans, talk WWI, WWII and Korea in the same breath as there were many of the same men fighting in both in WWI and WWII and those in WWII and Korea. It should also be commented on here that when the Korean War was over, I applied to be an American Legion. and VFW member but was denied because, by their interpretation, Korea was not a war but a policing action. To this day I will not respect or support those organizations. I would be remiss, if I didn’t mention that, our town was a dry town, with the exception of the American Legion. That doesn’t speak well of their organization, does it?

Bill Ford, LI3

Ocala