Veterans of Korean conflict remembered

It is considered the forgotten war.

Except for the popular television series M*A*S*H, the Korean War is barely a blip on the country's conscience.

Forgotten, except for about 1.5 million soldiers who fought and the families of 33,000 killed on the Korean peninsula from 1950 to 1953 in a conflict between America, South Korea and their allies and North Korea and China.

Forgotten even more are the millions of American soldiers who have served, and some who died, since the 1954 cease-fire agreement, according to Tom Murray, Veterans of Foreign Wars state services officer in Kingman.

But recent legislation may give some veterans the recognition they deserve.

The U.S.

House and Senate passed the National Defense Authorization bill in November, which President George Bush signed Dec.

2.

The bill includes the Korea Defense Service Medal for men and woman who served in Korea since July 28, 1954, the date the cease-fire was signed, to a date to be determined by the secretary of defense, Murray said.

About 1.9 million have served so far, he added.

About 40,000 American troops are continuously in Korea, some with the dangerous duty of patrolling the demilitarization zone between communist North Korea and democratic South Korea.

Since the cease-fire, about 1,200 U.S.

personnel have been killed by enemy fire, untold hundreds wounded and 87 captured during more than 40,000 breaches of the agreement by North Korea.

Only the shaky cease-fire agreement has been in place, Murray said.

Technically, America is still at war with North Korea..

Murray, who volunteers his time helping veterans of all wars, said he served in Korea from 1965 to 1966 as a squad leader of a reconnaissance platoon along the demilitarized zone.

About 400 American soldiers were killed North Korean infiltrators during a four-year span in the late 1960s, he said.

"This is a vindication of our service and the hostilities that occurred and the people who died and were wounded," Murray said of the Korea Defense Service Medals.

"This should have already been given out, but it's better late than never."

Murray estimates a few dozen veterans live in Kingman who served in Korea since the cease-fire.

He said they should receive the medals by the first of the year.

For more information on the medals, contact Murray at 692-0080.