Korean War Memorial
Winchester — With fundraising more than halfway complete, a local group of veterans plans to break ground in January or February on a new Korean War Memorial.
The Korean War Veterans Association, Shenandoah Valley Chapter 313, has raised $55,000 of a $100,000 goal for the new memorial, which will be in Jim Barnett Park, said Chuck Bachman, the group’s commander. The site is off Maple Drive on the Cork Street side near the POW-MIA Memorial.
“The memorial will be finished by July,” said Bachman, 80, of Winchester. “The reason is that July 27, 2013, is the 60th anniversary of the signing of the armistice between North Korea and South Korea.”
The chapter is planning a dedication ceremony at 10 a.m. July 20, 2013, he said.
The memorial will honor men and women who served in the armed forces during what has long been called “The Forgotten War,” which took place from June 1950 to July 1953, said Charles Hoak, 80, lives in Frederick County, secretary of the chapter.
“With the memorial there, it will always be remembered what we did and that Americans lost their lives there,” said Hoak, who was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1952 and served in North and South Korea.
The memorial will have five main features, he said. The base will be lined with 8,000 memorial bricks. Even after it is constructed, people can donate $100 for 4-by-8-inch bricks and $1,000 for 8-by-16-inch bricks to have them engraved to honor someone.
“Families want to remember family members who were in the military,” said Bachman, who was drafted into the army in January 1953 and served two years at Fort Hood, Texas.
There will be four stone benches — two on each side. Two of the benches will feature the names of chapter members Ed 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 U.S. Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard, Bachman said.
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, Hoak 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.
“The whole purpose is to honor those 62 soldiers who were killed in Korea,” Hoak said.
During the three years of conflict, 33,741 U.S. men and women were killed in action, 103,000 were wounded, and 7,140 were prisoners of war, Bachman said. About 8,000 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.
The memorial was designed by architect Tim Machado, owner of Design Concepts of Winchester, with input from chapter members, especially Gary Fletcher, the memorial committee chairman, Bachman said.
Chapter members wanted the design to be mostly maintenance free, so there aren’t flowers or plants to take care inside the memorial and to keep costs down, Bachman said.
The fundraising goal was capped at $100,000, but the memorial likely will be less because some materials and labor will be donated, Bachman said. Money also will be set aside for a maintenance fund, which will be managed by the park.
The sale of bricks has brought in about $40,000 so far. The chapter also has had three $5,000 donations — from Larry Omps of Omps Funeral Home, J.J. Smith of Valley Proteins, and former Winchester City Councilman Art Majors, who offered matching funds.
The memorial and its proposed location were approved in June by the Winchester Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and in August by the Winchester City Council.
Chapter 313 was formed in late 2007 and chartered March 2008. Almost from the start, members discussed the need for a Korean War Memorial. The need was there not only to honor the military personnel who served during the war but those who continue to serve in Korea, Bachman said.
“That war is still going on; it never ended,” he said. “The 38th parallel is the dividing line on the peninsula.”
For the first six months that Hoak and his fraternal twin brother, the late Roy Hoak, served overseas, they were with the 1343rd Engineer Combat Battalion in North Korea. Roy was in the motor pool, and Charles was first a dispatcher and then company clerk.
“It was quite an experience for two 20-year-old boys who had lived a relatively calm, secure life,” Hoak said. “Then you go over there and enter a combat area where artillery is going over your head a lot of the time and you've got something like 20,000 to 30,000 Chinese a mile or two from you and you are trying to build a road up to the front lines.”
Both brothers “survived and we didn’t get wounded doing that,” Hoak said, so he can look back and not see a totally dark experience.
For Hoak, one of the charter members of the chapter, it feels good to know that the local soldiers who died during the Korean War and all of the men and women who served, will finally be honored in the way they should, he said.
The chapter currently has 75 members. Members can be people who served anywhere in a branch of the armed forces between June 25, 1950 and January 1955 and all military personnel who have served in Korea from June 1945 to today.
Donations to the memorial can be mailed to Stephen T. Culbert, Memorial Fund Treasurer, Korean War Veterans Association, 306 Ridge Road, Winchester, Va. 22602. For more information, contact 540-662-1965.
— Contact Laura McFarland at firstname.lastname@example.org.