Local veterans remember Korean War Armistice on 60th anniversary

sbowman@islandpacket.comJuly 26, 2013 

Korean War veteran Jack Curcio hopes "The Forgotten War" won't be forgotten Saturday.

"I came home from the war and most people said, 'Where have you been? We haven't seen you for a while,'" the 80-year-old Dataw Island resident said. "No one knew we were off at war, but hopefully (today) will help them remember."

Saturday marks the 60th anniversary to the end of Korean War, and President Barack Obama declared the day Korean War Veterans Armistice Day in an announcement Thursday.

The Department of Defense and Obama are presenting a ceremony Saturday at the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington to honor those who served in the three-year conflict. In South Carolina, U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., is hosting two ceremonies -- in Spartanburg and Charleston.

"This is the first time in my memory that anything has been done like this to honor the people that served in the armed forces during the Korean conflict," said Curcio, who is attending the Charleston event.

"It's a great thing for it to be held now because you have to realize that many of us won't be around for many more remembrances. It's giving those people that served their last hurrah," he added.

Scott said about 200 veterans are scheduled to attend the Upstate event, and 275 veterans will attend in the Lowcountry. He said it's a privilege to be in a position to plan an event for veterans.

"It's not that complicated to do something else for someone that deserves it so much," Scott said. "I hope this will give them the sense of appreciation and affection the community has for them."

Curcio, who served from 1952 to 1953 and is a member of the local Korean War Veterans Association chapter, played a role in creating the Korean War Veterans Memorial where Obama will speak today. He was chosen to serve on the president's commission responsible for creating the memorial, and is proud of the memory it invokes and the men it honors, he said.

He will have many mixed emotions on this day of remembrance, he said.

"There are many things you can remember; I will remember the friends I made and served with under battlefield conditions, the friends I lost," Curcio said. "I wouldn't really call it a celebration."

Fellow Korean War veteran Richard Whitmore remembers many details of the day the ceasefire was signed on July 27, 1953.

"I still remember 60 years ago, believe it or not," said 82-year-old Whitmore, commander of the Korean War Veterans Association local chapter. "We had 24 hours to remove our mines, and take down a bridge my engineering battalion had put up; it was sort of an exciting day that it had finally come."

Whitmore and Curcio said they hope the day brings comfort to the families of veterans that aren't here to see it.

"I think it's something we as a nation, we need to remember," said Whitmore, who lives on Hilton Head Island. "Whether we thought the wars were justified or not, lives were taken, and I think we need to remember that as a country to honor our veterans' sacrifices and service."

Follow reporter Sarah Bowman on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Sarah.

Related content:

Honor Flight South Carolina to recognize Korean War veterans July 15, June 24, 2013

Beaufort County Veterans Day ceremonies honor 'very best of what we all can be,' November 12, 2012

U.S. Sen. Tim Scott Office: Korean War Era Veterans to be Honored this Weekend

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