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Korean War vets honored on 60th anniversary

Jul. 24, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
60 Years Later: Remembering the Korean War
60 Years Later: Remembering the Korean War: On the 60th anniversary of the armistice in Korea, Sgt. Lorenzo Ortega reflects on the fear and courage he witnessed as a young man at war for the first time.
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The efforts of American troops who fought in what has been called the “Forgotten War” will be in the spotlight this week as the nation marks the 60th anniversary of the armistice in Korea.

The commemoration will culminate Saturday, the exact anniversary, in a ceremony at the Korean War Veterans Memorial, where President Obama will deliver a speech.

“It took our country many years to understand the full importance of the Korean War for political and other reasons. It’s right to honor these servicemen,” said Maj. Guillermo A. Canedo, a Marine liaison for the 60th Anniversary of the Korean War Committee.

Nearly 1.8 million U.S. troops served in Korea during the war that lasted from August 1950 until the cease-fire was signed July 27, 1953; 36,574 U.S. troops died, according to the Defense Department.

Millions of others were killed as South Korea, backed by a coalition of United Nations troops, fought off attempts from communist North Korea, China and the Soviet Union to dominate the Korean Peninsula. Nearly 2.3 million of the 5.7 million U.S. troops who served around the world from 1950 to 1953 are still alive, according to the Veterans Affairs Department.

North and South Korea technically are still at war, and the peninsula remains divided. About 28,500 U.S. troops are stationed in South Korea.

Saturday’s commemoration, called Heroes Remembered, will feature tributes from Korean War veterans, a recognition of the 20 other countries that were U.N. allies and speeches from senior government officials, including Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. Organizers expect about 6,000 people at the ceremony, which is free and open to the public.

Harold Wadley, who fought with the 5th Marine Regiment in Korea in 1952 and 1953, is traveling to Washington from St. Maries, Idaho. Wadley, 79, said he looks forward to reuniting with the Marines with whom he served as a young ranch kid from Oklahoma.

“I could never ever forget them and some of their leadership examples,” he said.

A complete list of commemorative activities near the nation’s capital is at koreanwar60.com. Among the activities:

■ 7 p.m. Wednesday, Twilight Tattoo. The 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, known as the Old Guard, will participate in an hour-long military pageant with the U.S. Army Band. Limited seating. Whipple Field in Fort Myer adjacent to Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va.

■ 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Marine Corps Evening Parade. Includes performances from the U.S. Marine Band, the Marine Drum and Bugle Corps and the Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon. Marine Barracks at 8th and I streets S.E., Washington.

■ 1 p.m. Friday, Operation Reckless. Join in the dedication of a statue of Staff Sgt. Reckless, a Mongolian mare that carried ammunition and wounded troops for Marines during the war. She was wounded twice in the five-day Battle of Outpost Vegas in March 1953 and received two Purple Hearts. Semper Fidelis Park, National Museum of the Marine Corps, Triangle, Va.

■ 8 a.m. Saturday, Heroes Remembered. Jung Hoon Kim, a member of South Korea’s National Assembly, will speak. Korean War Veterans Memorial, National Mall, Washington.

■ 6 p.m. Saturday, Peace Concert. The candle-lighting ceremony includes outdoor screenings of the oral history project Heroes Remembered: Voices of Korean War Veterans and the documentary “Fading Away.” Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, National Mall, Washington.

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