CEDAR FALLS, Iowa — Iowans who helped blunt the advance of communism and saved a far-off nation 60 years ago will finally get their due from the U.S. government this summer.
Iowa veterans of the Korean War are being invited July 14 to the Iowa Gold Star Military Museum at Camp Dodge in Des Moines, where they will receive certificates of appreciation from the U.S. Department of Defense.
The planning for that event will begin at 9:30 a.m. April 14 at Camp Dodge. The Tall Corn Chapter of Korean War Veterans of Iowa is conducting that meeting and inviting representatives of local veterans organizations across the state to participate and spread the word in their communities so as many Korean vets as possible show up for their July 14 recognition.
The Defense Department, in cooperation with the national Korean War Veterans Association’s Tell America program, will help conduct the July 14 event. It is one many nationwide leading up to the 60th anniversary of the July 27, 1953, armistice that ended the Korean War, which began in 1950.
“It is a program to tell the story of the Korean War,” said Tall Corn Chapter chairman Sid Morris of Cedar Falls, a longtime local educator, former Cedar Falls city councilman and Korean War veteran. “For many years, that war really was ‘The Forgotten War.’”
Camp Dodge, where many Iowans embarked for service in Korea and many other conflicts through the decades, was chosen because of the Gold Star Military Museum and its capacity, Morris said.
Details on how individual veterans can apply for the recognition will be explained at the April 14 meeting. Certificates generally will be issued to veterans who served between the start of the Korean War in June 25, 1950, and the 1953 armistice. Organizers also will solicit interest in establishing a Korean War veterans chapter for central and western Iowa.
About 70,000 Iowans served in the Korean War, and an estimated 35,400 are still living, according to the Iowa National Guard.
Morris hesitated to predict a possible turnout for the July recognition.
The certificate veterans will receive, signed by U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, says: “Through your selfless sacrifice, the tide of communism on the Korean Peninsula was halted and liberty triumphed over tyranny.
“The Department of Defense and the people of America and Korea are forever grateful.”
Additionally, Morris said his chapter has been told the Chicago office of the South Korean consulate general will deliver “Ambassador for Peace” medals sometime this fall to those Iowa Korean War vets who applied for them last year.
Morris said he personally turned in the names of 400 veterans, and many others also contributed. Details on that distribution have yet to be completed.
More information about the April 14 and July 14 events may be obtained by calling Iowa Gold Star Museum director Sherrie Colbert at (515) 252-4531.