Wisconsin Veterans of the Forgotten War have a way of getting lost in the crowd.
The Korean War. June 25, 1950 to July 27, 1953.
They come from all walks of life and occupations. An older relative, retired neighbor, or longtime friend.
They have names, and powerful stories of survival.
Harry Sobush, 81, of Milwaukee gets choked up just thinking about it. " I’m sorry that I get like that." he says. "I’m just thinking about the guys."
Mr. Sobush witnessed a lot of bloodshed. Had a couple of near misses himself.
Frank Stuiber, 82, of Cudahy froze his feet on the battlefield. He remembers how relieved he was when the medics thawed them out in warm water, then gave him a new pair of socks.
Mr. Stuiber considers himself lucky. He says some members of the United Nations forces actually froze to death.
Russell Collins, 83, of Milwaukee remembers his greeting in Korea. He and his Marine buddies stepped into a mine field while on patrol. The next thing he knew he was helping carry the dead and wounded off a hill.
Wisconsin paid a heavy price for the Korean War: 132,000 served, 801 were killed in action, over 4,200 were wounded.
They are proud of their service. But often reluctant to offer details until you ask. And then you’re amazed at what they faced.
It was rough – the hills, the cold, and a relentless enemy. A seesaw battle with North Korean and Chinese forces for control of the peninsula.
The passage of time often triggers some tears. Not so much for themselves. But for what they witnessed. For those who didn’t make it.
Survival can be a blessing and a burden. Often they wonder. Why me?
History has proven the worth of their service. 60 years ago they endured, secured a region, then quietly came home.
Friends, neighbors, and a nation as a whole, are starting to take notice. Veterans like Harry, Frank, and Russell,
take comfort in being appreciated. But like all warriors they know it comes at great human cost. And they hope in their hearts that no one ever has to do it again.