By Korean War Veterans Association Chapter 329, and John Diaz, photos by Su Phelps
The Korean War Veterans Memorial was unveiled to a crowd of 350 veterans, residents, Koreans and dignitaries at the Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery, on a recent clear blue sky Saturday. The memorial honors those who served in the Korean War, including the 37 Nevadans who lost their lives. The 9,125 Korean War veterans buried at the memorial cemetery and the 37 Nevadans where welcomed home with their own memorial.
“Since 1951, I made a promise to these vets that I would bring them home. I envisioned that one day we could welcome home my brother vets with a place for their loved ones and fellow soldiers to sit and grieve, meditate and salute their service. Up until this point these vets didn’t have a place here memorizing those lives lost in the war.” said Commander Chuck Johnson, Korean War Veterans Association. The memorial was designed and built by the Korean War Veterans Association-Tibor Rubin Medal of Honor-Las Vegas Chapter #329 and financed by the Las Vegas Korean Community and many large and small donations by families, friends and brother veterans.
The memorial commemorates the sacrifices of the 9,125 service members, who are buried at the memorial cemetery, that served in the U.S. armed forces during the Korean War The War was one of the most hard fought in our history. From June 25, 1950 to July 27, 1953, 36,574 Americans died in the freezing cold battlefield of the Korean Peninsula. Some 8,200 are listed as missing in action or lost or buried at sea, six whom were Nevadans, another 103,284 were wounded during the conflict.
The dedication ceremony included the singing of both the National Anthem, by Christy Molasky, and the Korean National Anthem by Eun Hee Kim. Guest speakers included Kat Miller, Director of Nevada Department of Veterans Services, Belinda Morse, Chairwoman of Honor Flight of Southern Nevada, Oliver Lee, Las Vegas Korean Association, Congresswoman Jacky Rosen, 3rd District NV, and Colonel Tom Czech, USMC Retired. The keynote speaker was Consulate General of the Republic Korea, Kim Wan-Joong.
The highlight of the program was the reading of the names of the 37 service members from the State of Nevada who paid the ultimate price for their country. The names were read by Judy Ariola and Iris Keels, Chapter 329 Ladies Auxiliary and backed by Taps performed by Larry Ranson and the Trumpeters. The Chapter 329 Board of Director, Chuck Johnson, Commander, US Army 1950-1952, 1st Vice Commander and original member Larry A. Bacon, US Air Force 1952-53, 2nd Vice Commander Lee W. Mowery US Air Force 1951-1952, Adjutant Larry Kohlieber, US Air Force 1951-1953, Secretary and original member Hank Sawicki US Army 1951-52, Treasurer and founding member Fidel Diaz US Army 1950 and Scuttlebutt Editor Stanley M. Croonquist USMC 1953-54 and Sargent at Arms Mack Macalino USMC 1953-54 closed the ceremony by laying a memorial wreath in front of the memorial monument. The memorial featured a monument weighing 7,220-pounds, resting benches, brickwork and walkways.
“Now there is a place where our brothers resting here at the cemetery can be welcomed back every day. That was my purpose,” said Commander Johnson. Fidel Diaz reflected, “we are honoring those that are here and those that never made it back.” The memorial recognizes that the Korean War veterans are “not forgotten.”