View Full Version : Korean War vets recall plights

07-27-05, 07:45 AM
Korean War vets recall plights
Anniversary marked today

Today marks the 52nd anniversary of the end of the Korean War, the oft-forgotten conflict that came between World War II and the Vietnam War. Thousands of Americans served in the three-year-long war; 33,700 died there.

"The thing I find discouraging is the lack of knowledge of history," said Ted Magill, who served as an artillery officer in Korea.

Today, he and other Korean War veterans in Brevard County are working to remind others of the sacrifices there. They're collecting $15,000 to build a memorial to the men and women who served in the conflict, and regularly visit classrooms to share their stories.

Julius Farago had just finished high school when he escaped communism in his native Hungary. He wound up in a refugee camp in Austria and later came to the United States in 1950. The following year, he was drafted into the Army. Shortly after basic training, he was sent to fight in Korea.

"I didn't know how to communicate with my squad," said Farago, who at the time was just learning English. "Here I am, practically by myself because I couldn't communicate."

The Korean War could have been viewed as a civil war between a divided Korea or as an early element of the showdown between the Untied States and communist nations.

"It stopped the forward thrust of communism," said Magill, a retired lawyer who lives in Suntree. "We drew the line."

By June 1950, the North Koreans had invaded the south and driven South Korean and U.S. troops to the southeastern tip of the peninsula.

U.S. Marines and soldiers made a surprise landing at Inchon, 40 miles from Seoul. Within days the North Koreans were forced beyond the 38th parallel, the pre-war border.

Several months later Farago's unit was being overrun by communist forces. His compound was bombarded with an estimated 1,000 rockets in an hour. As a squad leader, Farago was given eight South Korean workers to help build a new position for the unit.

"As they started digging, a mortar came in and hit right in the middle of them and killed everybody," said Farago, a semi-retired cartoonist and caricaturist who lives in Cape Canaveral.

A piece of shrapnel lodged in Farago's neck, a quarter-inch from his spine. Days later, the shrapnel was removed while he was on a ship on his way back home.

"I always think I was a quarter-inch from death," he said.

Today both Farago and Magill are part of Korean War veterans organizations that help share the history of the war.

"The thing to remember is that this is only a truce," Magill said. "We never signed a peace agreement."

Contact Moody at 242-3651 or nmoody@flatoday.net

Historical facts of Korean War

Actual hostilities occurred from June 27, 1950, to July 27, 1953. However, the war period was extended to Jan. 31, 1955, by Congress to define a period of benefit eligibility in the wake of uneasy peace negotiations after July 27, 1953.

There were 6.8 million American men and women who served during the Korean War period.

There were 54,200 deaths of Americans in service during the period of hostilities, June 27, 1950, to July 27, 1953. Of these, 33,700 were actual battle deaths.

There were 7,140 prisoners of war during the Korean War. Of these, 4,418 returned to the United States, 2,701 died, and 21 refused repatriation.

There were 131 recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor among Korean War veterans. -- Departmentof Veterans Affairs