Story and Photo by
Sgt. Gaelen Lowers
8th Theater Sustainment Command Public Affairs
HONOLULU — The Korean War started with a sudden invasion.
Although a cease-fire armistice was signed three years later, the war never officially ended.
In the U.S., the Korean War is commonly referred to as “The Forgotten War,” but on June 25, with representatives of many Pacific countries and veterans who fought during the conflict present, the U.S. made sure, for the 62nd time, that the Korean War would never be forgotten.
The 62nd Korean War Commemoration was held at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. The Honorable Young-Kil Suh, Consul General of the Republic of Korea, hosted the event.
More than 100 veterans and spouses of those who made the ultimate sacrifice were honored, and special guests were invited to place a wreath on the memorial as a commemoration to the start of the Korean War.
Also present were key military leaders, including representatives from U.S. Army-Pacific, 8th Theater Sustainment Command and the 25th Infantry Division, as well as top-ranking officials from the Navy, Coast Guard and Marines.
The keynote speaker for the day’s events was Lt. Gen. Duane Thiessen, commander, U.S. Marine Forces Pacific.
“The United Nations suffered 142,000 casualties, and the Korean people lost more than one million lives,” Thiessen said. “We come here today to remember the three-year struggle across the Korean peninsula, to remind ourselves that freedom is not free, and to pay tribute to those who sacrificed so much.”
Hawaii Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz said there was no other country in the world that had a better relationship to the U.S. than South Korea, and that the U.S. government was proud to commemorate the day that so many Koreans and Americans lost their lives fighting for freedom and what they believed in.
Col. Glenn Grothe, chief of staff, 8th TSC, represented the unit during the commemorative wreath laying.
“The wreath was in honor of the veterans who fought so bravely and also to those who gave their lives, making the ultimate sacrifice,” Grothe said. “It’s important to recognize those who have come before us. We did that today, and it was an honor and privilege to do so.”
“The honor and the respect the country of Korea has shown me makes this commemoration even more important,” said James Ward, retired sergeant, Marine Corps, and veteran of the Korean War.
Ward told a story about a visit he made to Korea. He went to a museum, and a bus of school children happened to be there at the same time. When the children saw him, without provocation, they ran up, hugged him and thanked him for his service to the military and their country.
“That was worth every minute I spent in that war,” he said. “I’m very proud of the military, what they have done for me and, more importantly, what they have done for others. They made me a better person, because I follow their example and am not afraid to put myself forward to help others.”