EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – The Korean War is often called the Forgotten War.
Sandwiched between the global fight against fascism in World War II and the tragedy of the Vietnam War, it is easy to overlook the Korean War, which raged from 1950 until the official fighting ended with an armistice in July 1953.
Saturday, a group of Korean War veterans, members of the Korean American community in El Paso and around Texas and local dignitaries gather for the 2nd annual Continuing The Legacy of Korean War Veterans at the Wyndham El Paso Airport Hotel.
The highlight of the event was unveiling signs that will dedicate a portion of U.S. 54 from Transmountain to the state line as “Korean War Veterans Memorial Highway.”
State Sen. Cesar Blanco, D-El Paso, carried a Senate bill which made the designation official.
“It is important to recognize that in so many ways it is the Forgotten War,” Blanco said. “We have to remember that young men from the barrios of El Paso went overseas to fight for the ideals that we support and live by day by day.
“We have a very proud legacy of veterans’ history here in our community,” Blanco continued. “This is one way to remember that and one way to honor their sacrifice so future generations will never forget.”
Doug Park, a former president of the Korean Association of El Paso, said American service members went to Korea in the early 1950s, a place many had never heard of, and sacrificed to ensure a safe, democratic country in South Korea.
“It is very important to recognize what they have sacrificed,” Park said. “Due to their sacrifice, it was able to spring up from the poorest country in the world to the sixth richest country in the world.”
Nearly 40,000 Americans died in action in Korea and more than 100,000 were wounded. About 8,000 are still listed as missing.
Thousands of U.S. service men and women continue to serve in South Korea, ensuring that peace continues.
Wayne Gilbert served in Korea and was wounded in action. Gilbert, a member of the Korean War Veterans Association, Chapter 249 in El Paso, said he is proud that U.S. 54 will bear the reminder of the sacrifice of the heroes he served with in his youth.
“I am a survivor. I was in the infantry in North Korea,” Gilbert said. “I was wounded, but I did survive. We lost a lot of people in that conflict. In my estimation, the real heroes were the ones who never came home alive.”