UNION COUNTY — The Korean War is not over and because it is not over the veterans of that conflict and its aftermath have never received the welcome home they deserve.
The Union Civitan Club plans to do something about that and they need the public’s help to do so.
Civitan Club President Tommy Sinclair announced Thursday that the club is making plans to host a reception for Korean War veterans and the veterans of military service in Korea since overt hostilities came to a halt 65 years ago. Sinclair said that the reception is planned for July 27, the 65th anniversary of the armistice that ended the fighting in Korea.
The Korean War was the first major conflict of the Cold War and lasted from June 25, 1950 until the signing of the armistice ending combat on July 27, 1953. The war pitted the communist powers of North Korea and China with the backing of fellow communist power Russia against allied forces that included South Korea and America operating under the authority of the United Nations.
While the actual fighting between the two sides ended on June 27, 1953, this was only an armistice, not an actual peace treaty formally ending the war. As a result, technically speaking the Korean War has never ended and in the 65 years since the United States of America has maintained a sizable military presence on the Korean Peninsula to help protect South Korea from North Korea, the aggressor in the Korean War.
America’s commitment to protecting South Korea from the possibility of renewed North Korean aggression has resulted in thousands of American soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen serving in and around the Korean peninsula, an area that is still under a state of war. It is these veterans, along with the veterans of the Korean War itself, that the Civitan Club is seeking to honor.
The idea of honoring the veterans of Korea had its genesis in the Civitan’s honoring a veteran of a more recent war.
Sinclair said that the Civitan Club invited Kevin Brewington to come speak about his involvement in the Spartanburg Drill Team during the club’s June 5 meeting at the Inn at Merridun. In September 2011, U.S. Army Pfc. Kevin Brewington, 21, a resident of Jonesville, suffered severe wounds including the loss of both legs when he stepped on an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan.
While he had been invited to address the club about his involvement in the Spartanburg Drill Team, Sinclair said the club’s main motivation for inviting Brewington was to make him an honorary member of the Union Civitan Club in recognition of his continued service to his country through such things as the Drill Team despite his previous sacrifices during the War on Terror.
Sinclair said the club was also inspired by recent developments in Korea including the meeting of South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean President Kim Jong-un at the DMZ dividing their countries and Kim’s subsequent meeting with American President Donald Trump in Singapore, developments that hold out the possibility of the Korean War coming to a formal end. He said that with these developments as a backdrop, the Civitans honored former club president and Korean War veteran Modest Keenan and Inn at Merridun owner Peggy Waller, herself a veteran of military service in Korea, during their June 19 meeting. During the meeting Keenan and Waller were given the chance to share “war stories” with the Civitans.
Now, the Civitans are looking to honor all the Union County veterans of the Korean War and service in Korea since 1953 and are asking the public’s help in identifying those veterans.
“In the coming weeks we will ask the community to help us identify Korean War veterans and the people involved in serving tours there for the last 65 years,” Sinclair said. “As we build up to that date the club will research and share information through the media as to cost, number of people, KIAs, WIAs, MIAs and other interesting information.
“The club thinks this is significant and proper for several reasons and hopes the continuing information shared in the media will show that,” he said. “We look forward to paying tribute to those that served at the reception as we celebrate the ending of 65 years involvement and the end of that nuclear threat. Please stay tuned.”
Anyone with information about the Korean War veterans and veterans of military service in Korea since the war are asked to call Tommy Sinclair at 864-621-2435.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.