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Gaul: Bettendorf veteran encounters memories of Korea

Gaul: Bettendorf veteran encounters memories of Korea

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art tatoian by aircraft

Arthur Tatoian, 89, of Bettendorf, sits next to a Fairchild C-119G, or 'Flying Boxcar' that is at the Air Mobility Command Museum at Dover (Delaware) Air Force Base. The photo was taken earlier this year as Tatoian was visiting his son who lives in Delaware. Both Tatoian and the 'Flying Boxcar' served in the Korean War.

It's been said that Korea is the "forgotten war" because not much is written about it or the thousands of men and women who served, or the 54,246 Americans who died.

But for Denise Tatoian, of Bettendorf, the war is very much remembered. Her father, Arthur, 89, served in the war as a sergeant in the 1st Marine Division from August 1948 until September of 1952, living through some of the worst of the fighting.

Earlier this year, he was featured in a photo in a Delaware newspaper next to a military aircraft designed to carry troops and cargo of that time. It is called the Fairchild C-119G, or 'Flying Boxcar'.

Tatoian was in Delaware visiting his son (Denise's brother) in the town of Dover, which also happens to be home to a museum of military aircraft, and his son took him to visit.

There Tatoian came face-to-face with the aircraft that figured prominently in his young life during the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, a 17-day struggle that took place between Nov. 27 and Dec. 13, 1950, pitting badly outnumbered American and Korean forces against an overwhelming influx of Chinese.

The Chinese had entered the conflict about a month before, sending a large force into North Korea that surprised U.S. forces around the man-made lake of Chosin.

Temperatures at the time plunged to 30 below zero, and the area was described by as "a cold, barren battleground where deep fox holes could be dug into the frozen earth only with the help of explosives and bulldozers."

Those who survived, like Tatoian, were nicknamed the "Frozen Chosin" or the "Chosin Few."

The American and Korean forces eventually were able to break out of the encirclement and make a fighting withdrawal down a 55-mile road through mountain passes and snowstorms to the sea port of Hungnam from which they were evacuated.

The 'Flying Boxcar' figured into this withdrawal.

A bridge over a deep chasm had been been destroyed by the Chinese, so the aircraft dropped portable bridge sections that were assembled by combat engineers to allow passage.

Although her father doesn't talk about his experiences in the war, Densie wants to share his story because she is proud of her father and wants people to know about his service.

I look at the photo of Tatoian next to the 'Flying Boxcar' and I think of it as one survivor meeting another.

REBUILDING: It's been six months since Habitat for Humanity Quad-Cities acquired another nonprofit called Rebuilding Together QC and began a new home repair program, expanding Habitat's mission of building new homes.

One of its strong suits is building handicapped accessible ramps that allow people to stay in their homes longer than they otherwise might.

If you know someone who needs a wheel chair ramp or is in need of home repairs in Scott or Rock Island County, encourage them to contact Steve Barton at or 563-359-9066 to see if they might partner on a project.

Speaking of Habitat, the group can always use money and volunteers to help it with its good work. If you don't feel handy with a hammer but enjoy preparing food, you can help by being a lunch provider.

These are people who prepare and deliver lunch for 10 to 12 volunteers on worksites.

If you have culinary skills — or are able to order and pay for a six-foot sub sandwich from Hungry Hobo — please contact Jan Trimble at or 563-359-9066.



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