Groundbreaking set Saturday for Korean War Memorial
Winchester — The men and women of the “Forgotten War” will be anything but when a local group of veterans breaks ground Saturday on a new Korean War Memorial.
The Korean War Veterans Association Shenandoah Valley Chapter 313 has raised $85,000 of a $100,000 goal and is going ahead with construction for the new memorial, said Chuck Bachman, the group’s commander.
The site is in Jim Barnett Park off Maple Drive near the POW-MIA Memorial and the Cork Street entrance.
Veterans, visiting dignitaries, family members, and the public will gather for the ceremony at 10 a.m. The event, which is free and open to the public, will recognize the purpose of the memorial in honoring the members of the armed forces who fought during the war, which took place from June 1950 to July 1953, he said.
“The memorial is primarily to honor those from this region who lost their lives in the Korean War,” said Bachman, who was drafted into the army in January 1953 and served two years in Fort Hood, Texas.
Association members will talk about what went into creating the memorial and recognize major contributors, he said. The ceremony ends with visiting dignitaries, picking up shovels for the groundbreaking.
Construction needs to be finished by July 1, because the chapter is planning a dedication ceremony to be held at 10 a.m. July 20, he said.
The local event will happen a week before a national ceremony held July 27 in Washington, D.C., will mark the 60th anniversary of the signing of the armistice between North and South Korea.
For some members, the local memorial will bring some “closure” to a war that was never officially declared over, said Narce Caliva, the association’s first vice commander.
About 250 people have contributed to the memorial fundraising campaign, he said. Others have offered donations of construction materials and labor.
“A lot of the contributions came from our members and their families and . . . are being made in memory of those who served in the Korean War and other conflicts,” said Caliva, of Frederick County.
The group still needs to meet its $100,000 goal not only to complete construction but to help with maintenance costs for the future, he said. The site will be maintained by the Winchester Parks and Recreation Department.
The memorial was designed by architect Tim Machado, owner of Design Concepts of Winchester, with input from chapter members, said Bachman, of Winchester. It will have five main features.
The base will be lined with 8,000 memorial bricks. After it is constructed, people can still donate $100 for a 4-by-8-inch brick and $1,000 for an 8-by-16-inch brick to be engraved to honor someone.
There will be four stone benches — two on each side. Two of the benches will feature the names of chapter members Edmund Reel of Moorefield, W.Va., and James Berry of Winchester, both of whom were held for three years in North Korean prisoner of war camps.
Five pairs of bronze boots will be mounted on pedestals in two rows running down the first part of the memorial. Each boot represents a branch of the military.
The focal point of the memorial will be a gray granite monument that will have the image of the Korean Peninsula surrounded by the names of 62 veterans killed in action, Bachman said. The military personnel were from Winchester, and Frederick, Clarke, Shenandoah and Warren counties in Virginia, and Jefferson, Morgan, Hardy, Hampshire and Berkeley counties in West Virginia.
During the three years of con flict, 36,516 U.S. men and women were killed in action, 103,284 were wounded, and 7,245 were prisoners of war, Bachman said. About 8,100 remain unaccounted for.
A 45-foot flag pole behind the memorial will fly the American and MIA/POW flags and be lit by solar lighting.
Even six decades later, hope shouldn’t be lost that information can be found on the missing, Bachman said.
In December, Shirley Hare Shipway of Strasburg learned that the remains of her brother, Pfc. James R. Hare, who was missing in action from the Korean War, had been identified almost 62 years after his disappearance.
Hare, of Cumberland, Md., served in the U.S. Army in Battery B, 15th Field Artillery Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division.
In September 1953, during a prisoner exchange between U.S. and communist forces, a returning U.S. soldier told debriefers that Hare was captured Feb. 13, 1951, by enemy forces and taken to a POW camp in Suan County, according to a press release from the Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office. The soldier said Hare died from malnutrition in April of that year. His remains were not among those returned during Operation Glory in 1954.
Between 1991 and 1994, North Korea gave the United States 208 boxes of remains believed to contain the remains of 200 to 400 U.S. service members, according to the release. Scientists have since identified Hare based on DNA samples provided by a brother and sister.
On Feb. 13, exactly 62 years after he was missing, a full military funeral service was held in Points, W.Va., for the fallen soldier, Shipway said. He had already been posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and POW Medal.
Shipway was only 2 when her brother entered the army, so she doesn’t have any memories of him. But she grew up hearing from her parents about their oldest son, the first of 15 children, who enlisted willingly at age 19.
“He went in on his own because he wanted to serve his country,” Shipway said. “It was in his heart to do it. Nobody tried to make him go.”
Shipway learned about the identification of her brother’s remains Dec. 19 when another brother, Stanley Hare, called her. He had been notified earlier that day by Michael Mee, chief of identifications at the Army Casualty and Mortuary Affairs center at Fort Knox, Ky.
Although she was delighted the family finally had closure, Shipway said she was amazed at the idea of her brother being identified after all this time.
“Even if it is a member of your family, you are like ‘Wow, is this for real?’” she said.
Because he was not from the area, Hare’s name will not be put on the new memorial, Bachman said. But he was happy that the family finally knew what happened to Hare.
The groundbreaking will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at its future site in Jim Barnett Park. The event is free and open to the public.
Donations can be mailed to Stephen T. Culbert, Memorial Fund Treasurer, Korean War Veterans Association, 306 Ridge Road, Winchester, Va. 22602. Contact 540-662-1965.
— Contact Laura McFarland at email@example.com