Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Memorial to honor vets who served in Korea
By Paul Fallon
Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — When Loren Jackson landed on the Korean peninsula in 1952, the conflict raging in the country was being called a police action by the United States.

But two years into the war, the 17-year-old Marion County native knew he was in for a fight.

“It sure wasn’t a police action,” Jackson said 56 years later while sitting in his kitchen remembering the days spent fighting in the United States’ first conflict during the Cold War.

“When I jumped off that deuce-and-a-half truck in Korea, I thought all hell had broken loose,” he added.

Korea has often been called the “Forgotten War” since it has often been overshadowed by World War II and the

Vietnam War. However, for those who fought back and forth across the Asian nation and the families of the nearly 37,000 Americans who lost their lives there, it will never be forgotten. And Jackson, the president of the local chapter of the Korean War Veterans Association, along with members of the organization, are striving to make sure the war is never forgotten by anyone else either.

Members of the group have been working on raising money for a Korean War memorial, which is to be placed at Pricketts Fort. The project will soon move one step closer to reality when ground is broken at 2 p.m. April 23 at a ceremony that will be attended by numerous dignitaries. Jackson said he believed it was not only very important to get the memorial built, but it was also long overdue.

“This should have been done 20 years ago,” he said. “And it makes me feel real good to be so close to getting it done. I just can’t wait to see that first shovel full of dirt dug up.”

The memorial, once completed, will be 76-feet long and 38-feet wide. It will be made up of a variety of different components representing different facets of the war and the armed services.

The memorial will have a casualty wall commemorating the 28 soldiers from Marion County who lost their lives during the war. The site will also hold a memorial stone megalith along with what Jackson called the “silent defenders,” which will be soldiers made out of bronze.

The flag poles at the memorial will all be 38-feet high, which represents the 38th Parallel, the line of latitude that was set as the boundary between North and South Korea after the ceasefire was declared in 1953.

The memorial will also be used to commemorate all of those who served in every branch of the armed forces, both combat and non-combat, Jackson added. Granite plaques are available for a $50 donation. The plaques will be inscribed with the name of the veteran along with the branch of the military in which they served. The plaques will then be placed at the memorial on the Common Wall.

The entire project will cost around $123,000, Jackson said. Although all of the funding has not yet been secured, he added that he is confident that the remaining money will be obtained.

Anyone wishing to donate money toward the memorial or to purchase a plaque for a veteran can contact Jackson at 366-2650 or Don Neptune, association vice president, at 366-3582.

Jackson, a rifleman in the U.S. Army during the war, saw a lot of combat in the time he spent in Korea and for him, the conflict will never be the “Forgotten War” because he can still remember it vividly over half century after the ceasefire. Jackson was still in Korea when the ceasefire was signed in 1953. His son, who also served in the Army, was at one time stationed Korea as well.

E-mail Paul Fallon at