Sixty years after the Korean War ended, the conflict will be commemorated in Dayton in a riverfront ceremony Saturday at the Ohio Korean War Veterans Memorial.
Civic and military leaders and a representative from the South Korean Consulate in Chicago will gather at 2 p.m. at the brick and gray granite memorial at 130 Riverside Drive, six decades after an armistice was signed to cease hostilities between North and South Korea.
Air Force Lt. Gen. C.D. Moore, commander of the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, is the keynote speaker.
James W. Snyder, a retired Marine Corps sergeant major, has never forgotten the “Forgotten War.” The Memorial, dedicated in the mid 1990s, lists 54,246 U.S. deaths, including 3,625 Ohioans, 103,284 wounded and 7,000 POWs. The Pentagon later revised the number of U.S. deaths to 36,940 in 2000, blaming the original number on a clerical error, according to Time magazine.
The names and home states of 8,182 troops missing in action are laid out in a long row of granite along a walkway for the conflict that went from June 25, 1950 to July 27, 1953.
Snyder, 82, of Kettering, survived six major battles in Korea, the below zero temperatures of the Chosin Reservoir among them as tens of thousands of Chinese troops joined the battle in late November 1950.
“The weather was 30 and 40 below zero and our cold weather gear was not adequate,” said Snyder, who remembered wearing long johns, wool and a parka to stave off the cold.
According to the Department of Defense, the 17-day battle between Nov. 27-Dec. 13, 1950 led to the deaths of 3,000 U.S. service members, another 6,000 wounded and 12,000 with frostbite injuries.
“That’s how a lot of casualties were,” he said. “They froze to death.”
Seventeen service members received the Medal of Honor for their actions.
“It’s important because (the war) showed that America and other nations are always willing to stand up for the freedom of another nation,” said Michael McKinney, a spokesman at the Ohio Department of Veteran Services.
Snyder said the war is far from the minds of most Americans.
“I just never thought it would be forgotten like it is,” he said. “I guess that’s partially our fault too because we never bragged about it, or talked about it.”
On Thursday, about 50 volunteers hadn’t forgotten.
They spruced up the memorial grounds next to the Great Miami River with mulch, plucked weeds, cleaned granite and shoved fence posts into the ground.
Jobe Jackson, 28, organized the work group of Home Depot employees who volunteered to prepare the grounds for the ceremony.
Jackson’s late grandfather, for whom he is named, fought in the Korean War as an Army soldier.
“I never got to meet my grandfather,” the West Carrollton man said. “I’m glad I could help something he was involved with.”