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Forgotten war vets remembered

by Airman 1st Class Andrea Thacker
Thunderbolt editor

Hundreds of men and women were reminded Saturday that the sacrifices made by Korean War veterans were not made in vain.

The Salute to Korean War Veterans, a part of the Department of Defense's 50th Anniversary of the Korean War Commemoration Committee, was held at the Tampa Convention Center with help from MacDill. The ceremony was the first event of 2003, which marks the final year of a war that ended in July of 1953.

Although the commemoration is a national event, the local branch of the Military Order of the Purple Heart arranged for Freedom Medallion presentations. The organization is made up of wounded veterans from different services and wars.

"We were tasked this year for filling the Convention Center with Korean War veterans and their families, and next-of-kin of those killed in action or who have passed away since their service in the war," said J. Edward Sitton, state senior vice commander, department of the Florida Military Order of the Purple Heart. MacDill Chaplain (Capt.) James TayloR led the invocation.

"I was honored to be a part of the ceremony and humbled to be in the presence of the Korean veterans," said Taylor. MacDill also secured a band from Robbins Air Force Base, Ga., while the U. S. Special Operations Command provided the joint service Honor Guard.

"The medallions were a gift from the people of South Korea to show their appreciation to those who fought to give them their freedom," said Sitton. "We (MOTPH) arranged for the medallions to be presented to Korean War veterans, so they would know that their fellow veterans have not forgotten them."

Although the Korean conflict was never declared a war by the U. S. Congress, it often is referred to as the Forgotten War. Serving in the Navy for 42 years before retirement, Cmdr. (ret.) Stanley J. Ewanowski believes that this ceremony helps to reopen the public's eyes on this forgotten war.

At 21, he was commissioned and shipped to the Korean theater, and he remembers the war well. About 37,000 people never returned home from that war. Ewanowski believes the ceremony lets people know that it was a significant moment in our country's history.

"It is a reawakening for the public to the sacrifices made by young people," he said. "To see the smiles of thanks and the tears of joy on the veterans' faces is a memory that will always be with me," said Sitton.

The MOTPH is working with the DoD to have medallion presentations in other cities in the future.




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