Korean War vets, many who say they felt forgotten, honored in Greensburg ceremony
Korean War veterans finally received their due on Saturday.
In VFW Post 33 in Greensburg, in hundreds of meeting places for veterans across the nation and in Washington, Korean War soldiers were honored on the 60th anniversary of the armistice that ended the war.
“This is good,” said Bill Moore, 83, of Wilkins Township, the guest speaker in Greensburg, where about 40 people attended. “There is a mixture of different services, which all came together as one group. That's the big thing.”
Moore, a Marine master sergeant who received four Purple Hearts and a Silver Star during his time in Korea, was in an outpost on Little Berlin Hill, about nine miles from Panmunjom, when he heard the armistice had been signed on July 27, 1953.
“It was passed down the line,” he remembered. “You couldn't keep that a secret.”
Moore celebrated with a bottle of fine scotch.
“It was a job well done,” he added.
Many Korean War veterans said they felt forgotten when they returned home, much like their brethren back from Vietnam.
Some who voiced that sentiment in Greensburg on Saturday said the celebration made them feel better.
“It was very nice,” said Joe Hornin, 83, of Greensburg, a combat medic during the war. “It shows that somebody appreciated us.”
“It's very nice,” said Stan Plonsky, 80, who served in the Navy.
Post 33 Commander Cliff Smith and Chaplain Bob Stricklin, both Vietnam veterans, said they wanted to do something special for their Korean War brothers in arms, knowing how they, themselves, felt when they returned from battle.
“I thought it was excellent,” Smith said of the program.
“I think it was a long time coming,” added Stricklin, an organizer of the Greensburg celebration. “It was a forgotten war. It's not a forgotten war any longer.”
“For a period of time, it was forgotten,” Moore said. “When we came home, there was nothing. We went back to our homes, and Pennsylvania gave us $280 for our service, and that was it.”
He said he believes Americans' sentiments changed a few years ago.
Those who attended the celebration watched the Washington ceremony, “Heroes Remembered,” on a big-screen television.
During his speech near the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, President Obama noted that Korean War veterans returned to an American public tired of war after World War II and Korea. The population was eager to move forward, he noted.
“You, our veterans of Korea, deserved better,” Obama said. “Here in America, no veteran should be forgotten, no veteran overlooked.”
Besides receiving recognition, Korean War veterans used the time to remember.
Moore, who spent 30 years in the service, recalled being face-first in rice paddies.
“Ah, that … water,” he said during his talk.
He joked that he could understand how a soldier could receive one Purple Heart or even two, “but you get three or four, that's carelessness.”
Harry Branthoover of Hempfield served with an Army tank battalion in Korea in 1953.
“We got there and they told us (that there were) 3 miles of paved roads,” he recalled. “We never saw it. It was all dirt and mud.”
Moore's wife, Deborah, thanked the veterans for the freedom they gave her and other Americans.
“I'm so happy when I get up on Sunday morning and worship as I please ,” she said.