Over six dozen veterans of the “forgotten war” were honored during First Friday in downtown Warsaw.
Each of the 70-plus Korean War veterans had their name called off, and Sfc. Jordan Mayfield presented them with a medallion during the last part of the one-hour ceremony. The medallions were provided by John Sadler and McHatton-Sadler Funeral Chapel.
During the three-year period of the Korean War, 5.8 million Americans served in the U.S. armed services, according to koreanwarvetsmemorial.org. During its relatively short duration from June 25, 1950 to July 27, 1953, 36,574 Americans died in hostile actions in the Korean War theater.
Of those, 8,200 are listed as missing in action or lost or buried at sea. In addition 103,284 were wounded during the conflict, according to the website.
Friday’s ceremony co-chair Ken Locke, in his opening remarks for the ceremony at the war memorial on the courthouse lawn, said it was an honor to be there. “We missed doing this in 2013,” he said, which marked the 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean War.
He noted he had the privilege of going to Washington, D.C., and seeing the Korean War memorial, calling it one of the most moving memorials. He recalled that it has a plaque with the following quote inscribed: “Our nation honors her sons and daughters who answered the call to defend a country they never knew and a people they never met.” Large letters on another wall state “Freedom is not free.”
Locke said every generation of Americans, in some way, has had to protect America’s freedoms.
For their help with the ceremony and in organizing it, he thanked American Legion Post 49, Amvets Post 1126, the city of Warsaw, Paula Bowman, Salvation Army, Kosciusko County Senior Services, co-chair Sadler and later added the employees of McHatton-Sadler Funeral Chapel to his thanks.
County Service Officer Rich Moran led everyone in prayer, Glen Hall sang the national anthem and then the pledge of allegiance was recited before keynote speaker Mayor Joe Thallemer took to the podium. Thallemer’s father, Don, is a Korean War veteran.
The mayor said, “Our community certainly recognizes each and every one of our veterans, no matter where they served, for their bravery and defense of freedom. It would be unjust to think any different, but tonight has been set aside for this assembled group of patriots – the men and women of Kosciusko County who served in the Korean War.”
Thallemer thanked Locke and Sadler for their “selfless dedication to all of the veterans of Kosciusko County. Whenever and wherever veterans gather in our community for a specific purpose, it was probably organized by one or both of these two gentlemen.” He also thanked Bowman for the part she played in organizing the First Friday veteran event.
He reminded those in attendance that Friday’s veteran ceremony was the second such veteran event of its kind. In 2014, marking the 70th anniversary of the Normandy Invasion, the Kosciusko County veterans of World War II were honored.
“On behalf of this great community, I’m humbled to be standing here this evening to specifically honor the Korean War veterans of Kosciusko County. We’re here to preserve the memory of those who have given their lives in defense of our country,” he said. “We’re here to honor those who have returned to enjoy the freedoms they have so bravely fought for.”
He mentioned how his father served as a military policeman in the waning months of the Korean conflict, leaving his wife and first child on the way to serve his country. He said his father was proud to serve his country like the other veterans at the ceremony.
Thallemer recounted how he went with his father in 2015 on an Honor Flight to Washington, D.C., to see the war memorials in the nation’s capitol, and then spoke about the history of the Korean War. He concluded by telling the veterans that history remembers the brave stance they made at a critical time in history.
The Armed Services Medley was then played, with veterans standing up as their service branch’s song was played.
Locke then introduced Mayfield. Mayfield served two tours in Iraq for a total of 30 months in country. Mayfield also helped pass out the medallions at the World War II ceremony in 2014.
After all the veterans were recognized individually, Locke said, “We certainly say thank you
to each one of you.” He said the Korean War is the forgotten war and it’s not talked about enough. “Thanks for serving your country,” he continued.
Locke then quoted two paragraphs from 16th President Abraham Lincoln, which in part states, “I am, indeed, very grateful to the brave men who have been struggling with the enemy in the field, to their noble commanders who have directed them, and especially to our Maker …”
A moment of silence, a 21 gun salute by the color guard and playing of Taps concluded the ceremony.