As I write this column, yesterday, July 27 was the 60th anniversary of the ending of the Korean War in 1953. That police action, as it was known until Congress officially recognized it as a war in 1998, began when on June 25, 1950, a large number of North Korean soldiers stormed across the 38th parallel, the boundary between the Soviet-backed North Korea and the pro-Western South Korea. A few days later, American Troops entered the war. As conflicts go, the Korean conflict was relatively short only three years. But during that time some 5 million soldiers and civilians lost their life to the war. The police action in Korea cost America 157,530 casualties, 33,629 of them battle deaths. The primary reason for engaging in that war was said to be preventing communism from spreading. Early in the conflict the burden of supplying military aid quickly to South Korea fell upon the United States. When the Security Council asked members of the United Nations to send fighting forces to Korea, only sixteen of sixty agreed.
Harry S. Truman, U. S. president from 1945 until 1953, presided over the war with General Douglas McArthur in command of the United Nation forces. Truman ultimately fired McArthur for insubordination because of a difference of opinion on how to proceed with the war.
Although a truce was signed, peace is still not a reality as the two sides occasionally engage in hostile action. North Korea and South Korea are now separated by a demilitarized zone along the 38th parallel.
At the beginning of the war North Korea was the dominant force with better equipment and better trained and disciplined military personnel. But North Koreas advantage soon shifted after America entered the war as North Koreas forces were driven back across the 38th parallel. It was nip and tuck until an armistice was secured in 1953.
The popular movie and television show M.A.S.H was set in the Korean War. M.A.S.H stands for Mobil Army Surgical Hospital. Cpl. Billy Mosier, one of our own who was born in Laurel Bloomery and died a hero serving in Korea, has had a number of honors bestowed on him, the most recent being having a building named in his honor at Fort Lee, Virginia. I plan to write more on Cpl. Mosier in a future column.
Ive talked with a few who served in the Korean War and from what they have conveyed to me, it was terrible duty. Severe cold weather was one of the factors in fighting that war. That, on top of a cunning and fierce enemy made for much misery on the part of the United Nations forces. I understand that the Korean War came before a lot of modern technology that is standard today.
We owe a debt of gratitude to those who served in that conflict half a world away. Many who served in World War II were call back to serve in Korea. Several Johnson County citizens served admirably in the Korean War. To those who gave their lives, I honor their memory. To those who served, I offer my sincerest gratitude.