3 Korean War vets recall time in service
Three Cherokee veterans who fought in the Korean War visit the Korean War Memorial in Washington, D.C., in September as part of the Cherokee Warrior Flight. Charles Brave, left, Selbert Taylor and George Green stand in front of statues of soldiers at the memorial. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Korean War veterans Charles Brave, left, Selbert Taylor and George Green stand at the Korean War Memorial in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 10. The memorial has a reflective wall, facts about the war engraved in stone and statues of infantrymen walking in a V formation. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
At the Korean War Memorial in Washington, D.C., statues of infantrymen walk in a V formation out of woods into an open field. For three Cherokee veterans who visited the memorial, the statues were a “moving” symbol of the war they fought in during the early 1950s. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
A stone marker at the Korean War Memorial notes the number of deaths suffered by United States and United Nations forces during the Korean War. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
WASHINGTON – The Korean War fought from June 1950 to July 1953 is sometimes called the “Forgotten War.”
The war was between North Korea (with the support of China and the Soviet Union) and South Korea (with the support of the United Nations). The war began on June 25, 1950, when North Korea invaded South Korea following clashes along the border or 38th Parallel.
Twenty-one countries of the U.N. contributed to the U.N. force, with the U.S. providing about 90% of the military personnel.
For three Cherokee men who fought in the war, it will never be forgotten. Charles Brave, 86, of Hulbert; George Green, 85, of Claremore; and Selbert Taylor, 88, of Pryor, recently visited the Korean War Memorial in Washington, D.C., and other war memorials as part of the annual Cherokee Warrior Flight.
Brave, who served in the Army with Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, said he would never forget the cold.
“It was 37 degrees below zero. Gen. Douglas MacArthur told us he didn’t know it got that cold over there. About 80% of the guys that left there had frostbit hands and frostbit feet. I, myself, have got bad circulation in my feet,” he said. “I think the Korean Memorial really gives the boys honor who fought in Korea. They had hard times. Most of them paid the price for being there. Myself, I spent time on Old Baldy, and I tell you what, if I had to do it again, I would volunteer and go back.”
The Battle of Old Baldy refers to five engagements for Hill 266 in west-central Korea. The battles occurred during a 10-month period in 1952–53, though fighting continued in that area after March 1953.
Brave was drafted in February 1953. He spent 16 weeks training at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri, and trained to be a heavy equipment operator, bridge builder and demolition man and landmine sweeper.
In June 1953, he was deployed to Korea where spent the next 18 months. He was honorably discharged from the Army at Fort Carson, Colorado, in December 1954 and then completed eight more years of service in the Army Reserves.
He earned the Korean Service Medal, National Defense Medal, U.N. Service Medal and the Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation.
Green was drafted in 1953, trained in Washington state and was sent to South Korea. He served with the Army’s 13th Field Artillery Battalion, 24th Division and said he thought the Korean War Memorial was the most “outstanding” memorial he saw at the nation’s capital, but “they’re all sad.” Seeing the Korean War Memorial with its statues of soldiers walking across an open field “brought back memories” of his service.
“My last assignment was on the 38th Parallel. We had 24, 105 (mm) howitzers and that’s the reason I got these (pointing to hearing aides). We were shooting over big mountains, and trying to bust the troops up so our infantry could penetrate and go in there. I was up on the hill one time. I had to take batteries and rations up to the outpost that called in the fire commands, and you look through those scopes up there. It was like a cemetery up there, all white uniforms of the enemy.”
He said the enemy who was firing artillery at that time was Chinese soldiers.
“The thing that got me the worst was the cold weather. I don’t draw disability on my feet, but I do on my hearing,” he said.
Green served one year in Korea and returned to Washington where he was discharged as a private first class in 1955. For his service, he earned the Korean Service Medal, U.N. Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal and the National Defense Medal.
Taylor said seeing the Korean War Memorial “touched him.” He got up from his wheelchair when he arrived at it so he could walk next to the statues of infantrymen. He said the statues were “really realistic” to him – “the weapons and everything.”
He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1951 and received basic training in San Diego. After graduating as an infantryman, he was stationed at Camp Pendleton until he was transferred to Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. He volunteered for combat duty in Korea.
Taylor said the memorial reminded him of a rice paddy he saw in Korea that he and his fellow Marines had to cross at night.
“I’ll never forget. We started laughing, and they were shooting a flare up,” he said. “I don’t know why we was laughing, but we had this colored guy, I think he was from Mayfield, Kentucky, and he kept saying, “y’all keep laughing. You’re going to get our names in the paper and our asses in the ground. I never will forget that.”
Cpl. Taylor was wounded in action on Aug. 16, 1952. After recovering, he returned home to the Marine Corps Supply Annex in Barstow, California.
For his service he earned the Korean Service Medal with one star, U.N. Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, U.S. Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal and the Purple Heart.
The fighting in Korea ended on July 27, 1953, when the Korean Armistice Agreement was signed. It created the Korean Demilitarized Zone that separates North and South Korea and allowed for the return of prisoners. The two Koreas are technically still at war because no peace treaty was ever signed.