Weekly Volcano Blogs: Walkie Talkie Blog

June 22, 2014 at 1:49pm

Words & Photos: 64th Anniversary of the Korean War Commemoration in Olympia

Col. Paul Bontrager, deputy commanding general, 7th Infantry Division, helps a member of the Korean delegation lay a wreath. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

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Retired Maj. Gen. John Hemphill captured the mood of the moment when he said, "Old soldiers may fade away, but we haven't done that."

He made the remark during the 64th Anniversary of the Korean War Commemoration held on the campus of the State Capitol in Olympia June 21.

Often referred to as the Forgotten War, approximately 400 veterans, family members and friends attended the event.

The Washington Korean War Meritorious Veterans League, the Washington-Tacoma Korean American Association and the Seattle Chapter of the National Unification Advisory Council sponsored the event.

The Korean War was a war between the Republic of Korea (South Korea) and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea). 

The war began in June 1950 when communist forces from North Korea invaded South Korea. The United States intervened in support of South Korea. Fighting ended in July 1953.

>>> Honor Guard soldiers assigned to 17th Field Artillery Brigade don ascots just prior to the beginning of the 64th Korean War Commemoration in Olympia. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

"Sixty-four years ago the attack marked one of the first actions of the Cold War," said Col. Paul Bontrager, deputy commanding general, 7th Infantry Division, Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

"We have a heritage of respect; we have forged an alliance that continues today."

Reminiscences amongst Korean War veterans, speeches of remembrance and renewed friendship and numerous wreath layings characterized the hour-long ceremony.

>>> Retired Col. Don Roberts, who served two tours of duty in Korea and 26 years in the Army.  Note the two stars on his Combat Infantry Badge. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

"It's really good to be here," commented Col. Don Roberts, a 26-year Army veteran who served two tours during the Korean War.

Above his ribbons was a rare Combat Infantry Badge with two stars.  He said only 400 have been awarded and that only 100 awardees are still alive.

Korean War veterans will fade away, but they will not be forgotten for the bravery and sacrifice they demonstrated that created today's free South Korea.

>>> Korean War veterans placed white chrysanthemums and saluted at the Korean War Memorial during the 64th  Korean War Commemoration. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

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