UNION COUNTY — One was a newlywed who would begin married life apart from his new bride, one was a youth fresh out of high school who enlisted, and one would take a bullet to save the life of a fellow soldier at a place called Heartbreak Ridge.
They were among the men and women of Union County who, along with more than 1.6 million of their fellow Americans served during the Korean War from 1950-1953 and in the 65 years since the fighting, but not the war itself, ended.
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.
By the time the fighting ended, 34,651 Americans had been killed in battle, 10 of them from Union County. The names of those 10 sons of Union County are engraved on the marker honoring the county’s Korean War dead in the Veterans Memorial on Main Street in downtown Union.
While the actual fighting between the two sides ended on July 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.
In the 65 years since the end of combat, approximately 1.65 million American soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen have served in and around the Korean peninsula, an area that is still in a state of war. Over 23,000 American military personnel are currently stationed in Korea, many of them along the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating the two Koreas.
The Union Civitan Club is planning to hold a reception honoring the Union County veterans of the Korean War and service in Korea in the 65 years following the end of the fighting. The club is in the process of gathering the names of those veterans and, on Monday, Civitan President Tommy Sinclair announced that he’d learned the names and the stories of three more Korean War veterans from Union County.
Sinclair said that most of the American military personnel deployed to Korea since the beginning of the war “had what the military calls an unaccompanied tour, a tour of about a year without family because of danger.”
Carrol Bailey, who Sinclair said is a new addition to the list of Korean War veterans, had an unaccompanied tour at the beginning of his marriage.
Sinclair said that Bailey’s wife, Hilda, told him “when they returned from their honeymoon the military notice was in the mailbox. Carrol and Hilda started their marriage apart.”
High School Graduate
Another addition to the list is Charles Hoyle who Sinclair said told him that “he finished Union High School when Manning Jeter was principal in the early fifties (and) joined the army.” Sinclair said that after finishing his military service, Bailey attended Newberry College on the Korean War GI Bill, became a senior executive with the IRS and, following his retirement, became a contract government employee serving in Eastern Europe.
The third story Sinclair said he has learned about Union County’s Korean War veterans involves the Battle of Heartbreak Ridge.
Fought from Sept. 13, 1951 to Oct. 15, 1951, the Battle of Heartbreak Ridge took place in the hills of North Korea a few miles north of the 38th parallel near Chorwon. It pitted American and French troops against North Korean and Chinese forces and ended with the Americans and the French securing the ridge. American and French casualties totaled more than 3,700 while North Korean and Chinese casualties are estimated at more than 25,000.
Among the American soldiers who fought at Heartbreak Ridge was Wayne R. Eubanks from Union County who Sinclair said was wounded saving another soldier’s life.
“Wayne was the grandfather of Fran Bailey and she shared with me the documentation of Wayne stepping directly in the line of fire to protect a fellow soldier, Freddie Williams, in the Battle of Heartbreak Ridge on September 13, 1951,” Sinclair said. “Wayne received the Purple Heart for his wounds. Mr. Williams made contact with Wayne Eubanks’ daughter, Fran Bailey’s mother, back in 2013 expressing appreciation for her father’s lifesaving efforts back then.”
Sinclair said the Civitan Club is continuing planning and preparing for the July 27 reception and is still seeking information about the Union County veterans of the Korean War and of the 65 years of deployment to Korea since the fighting stopped. He said that the reception will be held at the Lutheran Church Friday, July 27 from 5-7 p.m. and that more details will follow as the club gets more information.
Anyone with information about the Union County veterans of military service in Korea since 1953 and/or information regarding the veterans of the Korean War itself is asked to call Tommy Sinclair at 864-621-2435; Cindy Fore at 864-429-6224; Becky Cobb at 864-426-3960; Donna McMurray at 864-426-3158; and Tina Cordell at 864-427-8078.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.