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Korean War veterans want to be remembered

April 11, 2010|By DAN DEARTH
  • Members of Antietam Chapter 312 of the Korean War Veterans Association include front row from left, Wayne Taylor, Pat Patterson and Wayne Winebrenner. Back row from left, John Koontz Sr. and Les Bishop.
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer,

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- A group of Washington County veterans is waging its own battle to ensure that local men and women who served in the Korean War are not forgotten.

Les Bishop, secretary of Antietam Chapter 312 of the Korean War Veterans Association, said the organization wants to find Washington County veterans who served in the conflict and compile a list. Because local records aren't available, the group is asking living veterans and relatives of the deceased -- particularly those who died in combat or are listed as missing -- to come forward.

"We want to honor the folks who served in the Korean War and create a sense of awareness to the public that there was a Korean War," Bishop said.

The Korean War, or the "Forgotten War" as it is sometimes called, started June 25, 1950, when communist forces from North Korea invaded the South. Early in the fighting, South Korean forces were routed and driven into a small pocket of resistance until United Nations forces led by U.S. troops mounted a successful counterattack.

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The war lasted until July 27, 1953, when both sides agreed to end hostilities. Nearly 37,000 Americans died during the war. North and South Korea remain divided today.

Wayne Winebrenner, 76, commander of Antietam Chapter 312, said the organization also is seeking new members. Membership in the Antietam chapter is open to veterans who served anywhere in the armed forces from June 25, 1950, to Jan. 31, 1955, and to veterans who served in Korea anytime after Feb. 1, 1955.

"Someday we're going to be gone," said Winebrenner, who served with the Marines during the war. "We'd like the younger generation to take over."

Winebrenner said the Antietam chapter was formed in July 2007, and has 53 members.

In addition to trying to preserve the memory of the war, Chapter 312 is active in the community.

Winebrenner said the group recently started a $500 scholarship that will be given each year to a high school student. To qualify, applicants must be a direct descendant of a Korean War veteran.

To commemorate the 60th anniversary of the start of the war, the Antietam chapter will host a free event June 26 at Hagerstown Community College's Kepler Theater.

John Koontz Sr., 77, who served in Korea with the 101st Airborne Division, said the ceremony, in part, will provide information about the war and Korean culture.

Bishop, Koontz and Winebrenner said the Korean War wasn't publicized as highly as World War II or Vietnam, but the conflict was necessary to rescue South Korea, and to prevent the spread of communism to Japan and other parts of the region. When the war ended, they said, U.N. troops were north of the 38th Parallel and relinquished that ground only as a condition of the armistice.

"They always say the 'Forgotten War' (because) there weren't winners," Koontz said. "They said a truce was signed and nobody won. That's not true. There was a winner. We won."




For more information...



To join Antietam Chapter 312 of the Korean War Veterans Association or to provide information about veterans who served during that conflict, call Les Bishop at 240-420-3755; John Koontz Sr. at 301-739-5468; or Wayne Winebrenner at 301-797-1030.

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