Some call it The Forgotten War, but for Camden's Joe Liston and a group of area veterans, the Korean War still is a vivid memory.
Liston and four additional members of the Richard D. Hutchinson Kent County Korean War Veterans Association will quietly honor four of their fallen comrades with graveside ceremonies Saturday in two local cemeteries.
Their tributes are just a small part of national observances also scheduled for that day, the 60th anniversary of the July 27, 1953 armistice that ended active fighting on the peninsula. The largest tribute will be held in Washington, D.C., with President Barack Obama as keynote speaker.
Although invited to those ceremonies, Liston and his comrades, Jim Schafer, George Courtney, Sam Booth and Dr. Dan Coons, opted for something much simpler and much more poignant:
"We're going to go to the graves, plant a flag, salute, and play Taps," he said.
That, and recall something of the lives of the 45 Delawareans who died or went missing in the conflict that started when North Korean forces invaded South Korea in June 1950.
They first will travel to the cemetery at Barratt's Chapel, Frederica, to honor John B. Jester Jr., a soldier stationed in Korea who was killed in 1956.
Next, the veterans will salute Pfc. Paul LeRoy Hitch, 22, a medic who died Sept. 2, 1951, while tending to other wounded soldiers.
Finally at Barratt's Chapel, the group will pay tribute to Cpl. Timothy Edward Kimball, 20, a Woodside area resident killed April 17, 1951. Kimball, who had attended the former Felton High School, had been in Korea eight months when he became the 19th Delawarean killed in the conflict.
To complete their tributes, the group will gather at Lakeside Cemetery, Dover, to honor Army Pvt. John Milbourne Godwin, 18, who died Sept. 16, 1950. Godwin, known to many as "Millie," had quit Dover High School in 1949 to enlist.
According to contemporary news accounts, Godwin mailed his last letter home just hours before he was killed; it arrived at his family's home at 22 N. Governors Ave. the day before the Godwins were notified of his death.
The deaths of Godwin, only three months after the start of the war and many others early in the conflict, were attributed to the United States' being totally unprepared for another conflict just five years after the end of World War II. Troops were sent into combat with antiquated equipment and fought in the deadly cold while wearing summer style uniforms.
"We were using M-1 rifles with seven-round clips," Liston recalled. "That's not much when you have a hoard of Chinese soldiers coming at you."
Today, Liston and other Korean War veterans give talks at area high schools and Boy Scout troops to talk about the war in an effort to make sure the next generation learns of their sacrifices.
Page 2 of 2 - Any military veteran who served in Korea since 1945 is eligible for membership in the Korean War Veterans Association. Those interested in joining should call Liston at 698-5193.