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  June 2000
New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs

Return To Korea
 The New Jersey National Guard began their official commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Korean War by taking eight veterans of the conflict back to Korea in May.

 With the assistance of U.S. Forces Korea and New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman, the veterans were able to revisit battle sites they had first seen almost a half-century ago. Memorial services for those who did not return from the “Forgotten War” were conducted at Inchon, Osan, Seoul, Yongsan, and Hwachon and wreathes were placed at each of the sites.  The eight veterans represented New Jersey’s major veteran’s organizations with membership from the Korean War.  Major General Paul J. Glazar, Adjutant General of New Jersey, who is also the NJ Commissioner of Military and Veterans Affairs, hosted the five-day tour.  Colonel (Ret) Michael Warner, Deputy Commissioner for Veterans Affairs, also accompanied the veterans.

 Governor Whitman, who was conducting a two-week long trade and investment mission to Japan, Taiwan, and Korea; joined the veterans’ group in Korea on May 20th to mark the 50th Anniversary of Armed Forces Day. The governor conducted a wreath laying service at the Eighth US Army Memorial at Yongsan Army Garrison, toured the joint security area at Panmunjom, visited US troops stationed in the Korean Demilitarized Zone, and hosted a dinner for the veterans at the Commander-in-Chief’s mess in Seoul. She was also briefed by Lieutenant General Daniel Petrosky, Commander of the Eighth Army, about the current military situation in Korea. 

 Colonel Charles Winn, Senior Army National Guard Advisor in Korea escorted the group during their five-day tour of the country. With his assistance and support the group was able to get to some rather inaccessible sites and locations. In one case, Col Winn had to coordinate with the Republic of Korea (ROK) Army to gain access to Hill 313, which was in the 7th (Korean) Division sector. One of the veterans, Patrick McGahn, had been awarded the Navy Cross for his actions as a Marine platoon leader at Hill 313 in 1950. Col Winn also coordinated all transportation, color guards, and protocol for both the veterans and the governor’s delegation. 

 Emotions ran high throughout the trip as the vets remembered those they served with, and those that did not return. The consensus of the group was that their service and sacrifices were not in vain considering the present state of the Korean economy compared to their neighbors in communist North Korea. Robert Yancey, a veteran of WWII, Korea, and Vietnam stated, “You only have to look up north – there are no lights there after dark – and down here it is lit up like a Christmas tree. It was certainly worth fighting for.” Tears fell freely at several sites where friends had been killed. E. Larry St. Laurent, a veteran of the 7th Infantry Division said, “So many good men fell defending this place – it was like it was yesterday – you can almost see them in their positions.” He added, “It’s still hard to talk about, so many good young men.”

 The veterans’ group was also able to visit 8th US Army Headquarters, the joint US-ROK Command Post -  “Tango” which is the underground war fighting headquarters resembling Cheyenne Mountain - the North American Air Defense base; the site of the Inchon amphibious landings; the War Memorial Museum of Korea, and the Korean Presidential residence - the Blue House. 

 The NJ Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and will be conducting other events in the next three years to insure the “Forgotten War” is not ever forgotten again.

 Korean War Veterans making the journey back to Korea were:
  Mr. Manuel Alemeida, State Commander, Veterans of Foreign Wars
  Mr. Richard Bernard, Special Advisor to the US Secretary for Veterans Affairs
  Mr. Patrick McGahn, Korean War Memorial Committee
  Mr. Leo McKernan, Past Commander, American Legion
  Mr. Mort Millinger, Past Commander, Jewish War Veterans
  Mr. John Reed, State Commander, Veterans of the Chosin Reservoir
  Mr. E. Larry St. Laurent, Chairman, NJ Korean War Memorial Committee
  Mr. Robert Yancy, State Commander, Disabled American Veterans

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