The Korean War has often been called a “forgotten” conflict, but several area veterans hope to keep the memory and the history alive.
Gordon Faust of Waunakee is one of the few remaining members of the South Central Wisconsin chapter of the National Korean War Veterans Association. Now he and his fellow members, including Waunakee resident Bill Sprout, are looking for younger veterans who have served in Korea since the war to join and keep the association active.
An estimated 23,000 American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines serve in the United States Forces Korea today.
Faust served in the U.S. Air Force at the 5th Air Force Headquarters in Teagu during the war. He has diligently worked to preserve the memory of those who served there, and spent years compiling information about 850 Wisconsin soldiers who died in the Korean War for a book titled, “Wisconsin and Korea’s Forgotten Victory.”
The South Central chapter of the National Korean War Veterans was launched in 2001 and the following year had 50 members. Faust, at age 87, is one of the 18 left. He, Sprout and the other members, including Richard Staley of McFarland and Fred Sage of Stoughton, meet every other month on odd-numbered months, he said.
The members agreed to dissolve the chapter in September but have delayed that date, hoping to attract new members to keep the chapter active.
The meetings are at the VFW Post 1318, 133 E. Lakeside St., in Madison, and the members are all Korean War veterans. Faust said initially, meetings were held evenings, but with so many older veterans, the time was changed to 1 p.m. Realizing few younger people could make a 1 p.m. weekday meeting, the members changed the day to a Saturday to accommodate them.
A Reorganization Meeting is set for Jan. 18 at 1 p.m. with a membership drive, and the hope is younger Korean Service veterans will attend. Faust said the membership also contacted the Wisconsin State Journal about their efforts, and a story in that newspaper inspired interest in five or so people; all were veterans of the war in their 80s.
In addition to camaraderie and sharing stories, the members offer a program titled “Tell America” and give presentations at schools and senior centers. A recent one was at the Waunakee Manor. The hope is to educate others about the Korean War.
Faust has returned to Korea since the war. He and his wife visited Seoul during the 50th anniversary of the start of the war.
“It was fabulous,” he said. “We had hi-fives wherever we went.”
Fifty American veterans traveled there and visited the DMZ or Demilitarized Zone, along with the Korean national cemetery.
Faust said American service members stationed after the war have also risked their lives. Since July 27, 1953, when the war ended, more then 100 have been killed as they have served to support the truce.
“In essence, they talk about Afghanistan being the longest war. We have a cease fire (in Korea), but they never did issue a complete armistice,” Faust noted.
Anyone interested in learning more about the chapter can contact Gordon Faust at 608-849-8786 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.