Thursday, May 28, 2009

Another Memorial Day postscript

As you likely already know, I spent Memorial Day afternoon/evening (depending on your time zone) guest-hosting the Ron Reagan Show on Air America Radio.

In addition to dealing with Don't Ask Don't Tell, speaking with WWII Vet Leon Cooper, the subject of the film "Return to Tarawa," interviewing conscientious objector Josh Stieber and more, I wanted to shine a light on those who fought in what has come to be known as "the Forgotten War".

The Korean War began shortly after WWII ended, and ended shortly before the start of the Vietnam War, so it is often overlooked.

Although the TV show MASH, which took place during the Korean War lasted 11 years, the actual Korean War lasted three; more than two of those years were spent in peace talks.

A few more facts about The Forgotten War:

  • The Korean War started on June 25th, 1950 and ended on July 27th, 1953.
  • The Korean War was fought between North Korea (along with the Chinese about halfway through the war), and the United Nations with South Korea. It was a fight against communism.
  • Over 3 million people died in the Korean War.
  • The war led to nothing. All it did was prevented communism from spreading into South Korea. No other gains were made, only many casualty losses.
  • The Korean War has become almost Forgotten, sometimes called The Forgotten War. This is because it occured right after World War II and right before the Vietnam War. The Korean War often gets overlooked.
  • 16 Nations sent forces to fight in the Korean War. It was practically a World War all on it's own involving so many nations.
  • The Korean War marks the beginning of the Cold War.
  • The Peace Talks lasted 2 years and 17 days. 575 meetings had to take place before an agreement was made. That agreement kept the dividing line at the 38th parallel.
  • United States forces started integration during the Korean War, due to much needed support. Black and Whites worked together for the first time.
  • Many soldiers experienced frostbite during the subzero temperatures during Winter.
  • One of the first jets, the F-86 Sabre, was used during the Korean War.
  • MASH (Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals) began being used during the Korean War. The MASH units saved thousands of lives. Once a soldier got to a MASH unit he had a 97% chance of survival.

So, on Memorial Day 2009, I wanted to honor the men and women who served in this war, both those who made it through alive and those who were killed in the line of duty. I located the Korean War Veterans Association online, and began looking for someone to come on the show with me by making my way down the directory of officers.

Being Memorial Day, many of them were out at events. Luckily for me, 2nd VP Robert Banker lives in Maryland, so he arrived home from their Memorial Day event in time to join me on the air Monday evening.

Click here to listen to my interview with Korean War veteran Robert Banker.


Kevin said...

David Halberstam's last book, "The Coldest Winter", is a fairly comprehensive history of The Forgotten War (which phrase is the title of Clay Blair's earlier tome, oft cited in Halberstam's effort).

I fervently recommend it on many counts, including for an understanding of the genesis of the deep political divide which hampers the United States to this day.