KILLEEN, Texas - More than 150 Korean War veterans and guests gathered at Fort Hood’s Club Hood to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Korean War Armistice July 27.
Chapter 222 of the Korean War Veterans Association, located in Killeen, Texas, organized the “Remembering our Veterans” banquet.
“You know the Korean War has been given some bad reps. Unfortunately it has often been referred to as the ‘forgotten war,’ or the ‘unknown war’ because of the lack of public attention at the time,” said Brig. Gen. Clark W. LeMasters Jr., the commander of the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) and one of the speakers at the event. “I want everyone to know here, particularly our veterans that we have not forgotten!”
LeMasters also talked about the humbling experience of visiting the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., explaining the symbolism behind the statues, images and setup of the site. There are 14 giant steel figures that represent U.S. Army soldiers, there are three from the Marine Corps, there is one Navy corpsman and there is one Air Force forward observer, he explained. The figures reflect on the wall behind them, with the 38 total figures representing the 38th parallel North, which is the line of division between North and South Korea. It also symbolizes the 38 months of the Korean War.
LeMasters cited the inscription on the memorial: "Our nation honors her sons and daughters who answered the call to defend a country they never knew and a people they never met."
He also put it in numbers, why “Freedom is not free;” with the United States alone losing 54,246 in the Korean War.
The United States still has more than 28,000 “Our nation owes you veterans a great deal.”
Col. Timothy M. Karcher, the events special guest speaker from the Operational Test Command, who is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom talked about his own experiences in the military including having been through an improvised explosive device attack which cost him both of his legs June 20, 2009.
He provided an update on the status of the military, assuring the audience that although they may have left the service, they have nothing to worry about; the safety of the nation is in good hands. “The men and women who serve our nation today are doing great things for the nation, just as you did,” Karcher said.
Being an avid military history buff, he also challenged the Korean War veterans present, to “tell their story.”
Command sergeant major James R. Rominger, retired, who is also a member of Chapter 222 shared some of his experiences during the Korean War:
"[We had] no food, no clothes. We had gas and ammunition, but that is all we had. We had no food to eat except World War II C-rations. So we went hungry a lot. No showers, a running creek if you could find one. You just did the best you could; we had to keep clean somehow.”
As for a word of advice to our current military leaders, he said: “I hope they don’t do like they always do; deactivate everything. We were so unprepared for the Korean War."'
In addition to the guest speakers, the banquet also featured a country band who offered to play for free to support the veterans, children from a Korean church group performing a traditional Korean fan dance and a special presentation by the Fort Hood Noncommissioned Officer Academy illustrating the development of the NCO corps in the U.S. Army.
Chapter 222 also recognized some of their members for their outstanding support.