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Korean War veterans celebrated on 60th Anniversary

Recently, at Kings Highway Baptist Church in Fredericksburg, Korean War veterans from four branches of the armed services received their due during the 60th Anniversary of the Korean War.


On behalf of the U.S. Department of Defense, US Army Sgt. and Korean War 60th Anniversary ambassador Russell Claar handed out certificates of appreciation to the following veterans: James Cunningham, George Luhmann, Wiilliam Applegate, Clyde Buchanan, William Taylor, Clyde Duncan, Gunter Buhrdorf, Arthur Louis Seay, Ralph Knight, Albert Carvell, Bill Hays, Bob Vaughn, Franklin Simpson, Roy Gregory, Fred Reed, Kenwood Higgins, Al Desselle, Frederick Whetzel, Roland Oates, Roy Stanley, Matthew Bumbry, Max Garland, Bruce Richardson, Van Jones, Bill Hovey, Walter Brown, Eugene Johnson, Delbert Henderson, Clarence Woodard, Rondol Comer, Clyde Jett, Cliff Palmer, Bobby Richters, Clarence Weimer, Auburn King, and Oscar Creasy. The presentation also included five families of deceased Korean War veterans.
The keynote speaker for the presentation was first-district Congressman Rob Wittman.

King George area residents in attendance included: Jones, Bumbry, Buchanan, and Garland. With Garland’s assistance, Claar was able to locate and contact many local Korean War veterans who would have otherwise gone unnoticed. “During the last three years, I’ve been going to American Legion and Veterans of Foreign War Posts in search of Korean War Veterans,” Claar said. “One day, my girl friend, Valerie, and I were having dinner at the Cracker Barrel restaurant in Fredericksburg, and Max Garland was sitting there alone with a cap on his head that read ‘US Air Force Korean War Veteran’.”

After a short dialogue with Garland, Claar honored Garland with a certificate at his home. Prior to the presentation, Garland and a friend (Phil Hicks) provided Claar with a list of Fredericksburg-area Korean War veterans. According to Claar, over two-thirds of the veterans at the ceremony were present as a result of Garland’s help.

“The ceremony would not have happened if I had not met Max,” Claar said. “He started giving me names, and it multiplied.”

Assisting Claar during the ceremony was fellow ambassador Valerie Clarke. The certificate presentation was the final part of a three-year program, the sole purpose of which was to honor Korean War veterans. During the entirety of the program, Claar has handed out over 500 certificates for Korean War veterans in Virginia.

The program is a small part of a nationwide effort to honor those in the war often called “The Forgotten Victory.” Over the course of three years, over 80,000 veterans have received certificates signed by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.

Claar, now serving in the Army Reserves, served two tours of duty in Korea, from 1966 to 1967. In addition, he is the commander of VFW Post 7728, and the service officer for American Legion Post 247.

Because of President Harry S. Truman’s Executive Order 9981, African-American troops were integrated into the armed forces.

Fighting for outposts such as Pork Chop Hill, Bloody Ridge, Triangle Hill, the Punchbowl, and Old Baldy had a limited goal and tragic results. Like all international conflicts, the war also left permanent scars that left 103,284 American service members wounded, 8,177 missing in action, and 36,516 casualties. A total of 6.8 million American men and women served in Korea. Also, 7,140 U.S. personnel were interned as prisoners of war.

Technically, the conflict was never officially declared a war, but a police action.

There are still 37,000 American troops serving in South Korea near the infamous Demilitarized Zone.
Although there is a truce, a peace agreement has never been signed.

 

Leonard Banks

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