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Stories of Strength: Area veteran reflects on Korean Conflict at D.C. memorial

Published: May. 29, 2022 at 3:26 PM CDT
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WASHINGTON, DC (KJTV) - The Korean Conflict is often referred to as “The Forgotten War.” It’s one that claimed the lives of 36,516 Americans. It’s also one that hasn’t been resolved.

Earlier this month, several Korean War veterans (joined by Vietnam vets) took part in the “South Plains Honor Flight,” which gives those who served a chance to fly out to the nation’s capital for all-expense-paid three-day tour of Washington D.C. There, they can lay wreaths in honor of their respective branches, and be recognized for the war in which they served.

Kenneth Gentry fought with the U.S. Army during that time. When asked about his time in Korea, he described it using one word, “hell.”

“The winter times were really hard on you. In winter times, it snowed and we caught snowflakes at night. No wind and snow, we caught snowflakes. We were in our t-shirts. The next day, we had to have on all of our winter garment and that was awful,” he said.

While in combat, he also had to avoid gunfire, with very little to hide behind.

“I dodged bullets behind the telephone pole. I guess, that big around,” he said while signaling with his hands just how little protection he had.

“To see the sparks on the river rocks, it was something else,” he later said, describing the conditions of battle.

Before the wreath-laying at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial concluded the trip, those who served in Korea reflected on their own time in battle there at the National Mall.

They stood at attention near their respective monuments while “Amazing Grace” played on bagpipes.

“It makes you realize that God’s in control,” he said. (The wreath laying) was a great honor to me, a great honor. I never thought I would be part of it. We went over there, so they wouldn’t come over here.”

“If you remember Billy Ray Cyrus, he had a song. ‘All gave some, and some gave all.’ I remember that,” he said somberly.

The Memorial is currently undergoing construction, which began in March 2021, and will soon be open to the public. Moments after the ceremony, area veterans were allowed an exclusive look at what’s being added to the monuments. There, the 36,516 fallen were listed. Unlike the Vietnam version which includes a vertical wall, people can look down to see the names.

The construction workers were warm and welcoming to the veterans, and shook their hands before they left. When asked about the Honor Flight, Gentry said the trip was most beneficial.

“It’s wonderful,” he said. “It’s a chance to see what other people, and I’m an Army man, and it’s a chance to see what the other people went through and what they did, and how they did it.”

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