The 38th parallel
Final farewell for Korean War veterans
Published on : 25 June 2010 - 7:27pm | By Sigrid Deters (Photo: RNW/Sigrid Deters)
More about: Asia-Pacific Dutch soldiers in Korea Dutch war veterans Korean War news Pyongyang Seoul South Korea
"Our thanks to the Kingdom of the Netherlands." With a full-page advertisement in a Dutch newspaper this week, South Korea gave thanks to the UN troops who helped them battle the forces of North Korea 60 years ago.
This week in the South Korean capital Seoul, they are remembering the day six decades ago when North Korea invaded the South. It marked the start of the bloody Korean War which lasted three years. The United Nations went to the aid of the South Koreans. Almost 4000 Dutch soldiers took part in the mission. Fifty have travelled to South Korea with their families to mark the occasion. For most of them, it will be the last time they are able to attend such a memorial ceremony.
Millions of victims
Slowly the elderly veterans file into the sports hall in Seoul, some leaning on a walking stick, others in a wheelchair. At the invitation of the Korean government, around 350 foreign veterans have flown in for the commemoration. Together with over 2000 Korean veterans, hundreds of young Korean soldiers and the US troops stationed in South Korea to this day, they pause to remember the millions of lives lost in the war.
One of the 50 Dutch veterans is Fred Rosdorff, still very active despite his advanced years. He has attended a number of these memorial ceremonies, but none matched the massive scale of today's event.
"I've never experienced this before. This is my fifth time, but I get the impression that it's all been done on a larger scale this year. Grander, too."
A drum roll heralds the start of the ceremony, in the presence of South Korean president Lee Myung-bak. The Korean War is one of the bloodiest conflicts ever fought. In all its missions since, the United Nations has never sustained as many casualties as in Korea. In the Dutch battalion alone, 123 men lost their lives.
One by one, the countries that fought in the Korean War are given a word of thanks. For even though the war never officially ended, most South Koreans are glad that their peninsula, with the help of the UN, did not become part of North Korea's communist regime.
Sixty years on, the differences between the North and the South could hardly be more pronounced. While North Korea faces chronic food shortages, the South is among the world's most prosperous nations. Korea veteran Inge Lochmans - who has made the trip for the first time - barely recognises the ravaged country he left behind 60 years ago.
"Sixty years ago, this country was on its knees. Everything had been destroyed. It was total chaos. And now look at it, 60 years on. All these skyscrapers in Seoul. But also the improvements in rural farming. The villages have been modernised. I'm astonished by it all."
The Korea veterans at home and abroad are getting older. Ha You Sung of the Ministry of Patriot and Veteran Affairs says this is the last time that the memorial service will be held on such a scale. But he vows that it will not be the last time that South Korea will join with the other countries that helped them to remember the war: "It will be the last time that Korean War veterans can participate. It's our ministry's job to honour and respect veterans and patriots. And we will do our best to honour them. We will continue to invite the family members of Korean war veterans, even once all the veterans are gone."
At the age of 82, Fred Rosdorff has decided that this is the last South Korean commemoration he will attend.
"I think it's enough. I'm glad that I've reached the age of 82. ... We can live on our memories and we have good memories. Remember the good things, that's what I always say. Remember days like this."
After two hours, the ceremony comes to an end. The elderly veterans shuffle towards the exit of the sports hall in Seoul. The last time for many of them.
DUTCH PARTICIPATION IN THE KOREAN WAR
Arriving from fighting in Malaysia and commonly known as the "Netherlands Battalion," the advance party of the Dutch contingent arrived in Korea on 24 October 1950, but the remainder of the unit’s men did not arrive until early December 1950.
I. THE WAR
Duration of the Conflict: June 25th 1950— July 27th 1953 at 22OO hours. Participants : United Nations Military Forces versus North Korea and the People's Republic of China with political and material support of the Soviet Union.
Cause : Unprovoked attack by North-Korean military forces on the Republic Of Korea (South Korea)
United Nations Forces: Army(A), Navy(N) and/or Air force(AF)
New Zealand (A,N)
United States of America (A,N,AF)
United Kingdom (A,N,AF)
Union of South Africa (AF)
Medical Support: Denmark, India, Italy, Norway, Sweden, UK, USA.
II. ROYAL NETHERLANDS NAVY
During the conflict the following naval forces were employed:
Hr.Ms. destroyer " Evertsen" 07-07-1950 / 18-04- 1951
Hr.Ms. destroyer "Van Galen" till 21-01-1952
Hr.Ms. destroyer "Piet Heim" till 18-01-1953
Hr.Ms. Frigate " Johan Maurits van Nassau) till 05—11—1953
Hr.Ms. Frigate "Dubois " till 10-09—1954
Hr.Ms. Frigate "van Zijll " till 24—01—1955
The first four vessels were awarded the Presidential Unit Citation of the Republic of Korea as part of the US 7th Fleet.
Hr.Ms "Evertsen" and "Van Galen" were awarded the Presidential Unit Citation of the Republic of Korea for a second time as part of "Task Force 95 ".
A total of 1360 men of the navy served in the Korean waters.
Two of them died when serving.
Activities of the Dutch naval forces:
escorting aircraft carriers
destroying enemy costal guns, transport and bunkers
supporting ground troops with artillery fire
Hr.Ms. "Piet Heim" became a member of the "Train-Busters Club" after destroying an enemy train.
1950 Chinnamp’o, Inchon
1951 Wonsan, Inchon, Sak-to, Chingpo Sangjin, Chongsin and Hungnam
1952 Sak-do, Cho-do, Sangjin, Wonsan Taechong, P’yong-Do
1953 Sak-to, Taejong and P’yong Do
III. THE NETHERLANDS DETACHMENT UNITED NATIONS (NDVN)
The NDVN was established on October 15th 1950 by Royal Degree number 27, dated 27-09—1950.
Out of a total number of 16.225 volunteers only 3.418 men were accepted and sent to Korea. Because 516 men volunteered twice and 38 men three times a total of 3.972 men served in Korea. 2.980 of those participated in the actual war, as the units that arrived after the armistice (July 27th 1953) did not participate in any fighting.
The 3.972 men mentioned before formed 26 detachments, who left for Korea on different dates.
The 1st Detachment (636 men) left the Netherlands on October 26th; the 26th (and last) Detachment (143 men) left on July 1954. The last units returned to the Netherlands at the end of 1954.
116 men; 115 are buried at the Tanggok UN War cemetery near Pusan (Korea) 1 man could not be recovered after being KIA
Missing in Action 3
POW 1 (died in prison camp.)
One seriously wounded man died right after arriving in the Netherlands, one had died in an accident in Korea and one died on the way back and was buried in Singapore.
381 men were wounded in action, 26 during training, 5 and 56 men in accidents.
A total of 91 men are permanently disabled.
The NDVN was always considerably below official battalion strength and therefore the 8th Army allotted a number of Korean soldiers of the Korean Augmentation to US Army (KATUSA)to the NDVN. Of this group 20 men were KIA.
In memory of these Korean soldiers a remembrance plaque in both the Korean and the Dutch language is attached on the Korean War Memorial in the "Oranje barrack at Schaarsbergen near Arnhem, The Netherlands.
Twenty members of the other Korean support units CTC/KSC, assigned to the NDVN, were also KIA.
The total losses of the NDVN and assigned units amounts to 163 men. By this the NDVN suffered the heaviest loses of any battalion in the Dutch Army ever.
After arriving in Korea the NDVN was assigned to the 38th U.S. Infantry Regiment "Rock of the Maine". This was one of the regiments of the 2nd (Indianhead) US Infantry Division.
The most important combat activities of the NDVN were :
1951 Hoengseong, Wonju, Hill 325, Hwachon reservoir, Inje, Taeusan, Mundung-ni, Iron Triangle
1952 Silver Star Hill, Star Hill, Sagimak, Chungmoksil. Koje-do, Old Baldy, Arsenal, Iron Triangle(2nd time)
1953 Samichon valley, Nudea, Iron Triangle(3rd time), Chunmoksil, Hill 340.
The NDVN was awarded Presidential Unit Citations 4 times:
1. To the 1st Detachment NDVN the Distinguished Unit Citation of the President of the United States stating " Hoengseong— Wonju" for the period 12 / 15th Feb. 1951
2. To the 1st and the 2nd Detachment NDVN, as part of the 2nd Div, a similar award, stating "Soyang gang" for the period 16/22 May 1951
3. To the 1st up to and including the 16th Detachment NDVN, the Presidential Unit Citation of the President of the Republic of Korea, stating " November 1950 /April 8 1953.
4. To the 1st up to and including the 19th Detachment NDVN, as part of the 2nd US Infantry Division , a similar award, for the period Nov 22nd 1950 - October 26th 1953.
All Dutch military personnel that served in Korea was awarded:
1. by the Dutch government: the Cross for Justice and Freedom with clasp "Korea"
2. by the United Nations : U.N. Service Medal with clasp "Korea"
3 by the Korean government the " Korean War Medal" (Army personnel only).
KATUSA troops, as mentioned before, also were awarded the Cross for Justice and Freedom.
For gallantry in battle the following decorations have been awarded to members of the N.D.V.N.
Military Order of William : 3 (of which 2 posthumous)
Bronze Lion : 5
Bronze Cross : 19 Cross of Merit 4
American awards : 120
Korean Awards : 43
IV THE TRADITION
A. Van Heutsz Regiment
The tradition of the NDVN, the first unit of a new regiment, formed the 1st June 1950 and named the " Van Heutsz" Regiment, is kept alive by that Regiment. Van Heutsz was the most famous general in the Dutch East Indies at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century) The regiment is billeted in the Oranje barracks at Schaarsbergen near Arnhem.
Colors of the Regiment carry the words: Korea 1950-1954
Since the new formed regiment did not have her colors in 1950 yet, a Dutch flag was used in Korea as the "battle- flag " of the NDVN. This flag now has an official status and is shown on every parade etc of the regiment. American and Korean battle streamers, representing the Unit Citations, are attached to this flag.
The "battle- flag" has its own color guard, armed with the M-1 Garand rifle (as used in Korea by the NDVN ) The Color Guard wears the U.S. 2nd Infantry Division "Indianhead" patch on its right sleeve.
On the barrack grounds Is also situated the official monument for the Dutch soldiers and the KATUSA soldiers killed in action during the Korean War
A final farewell: Aging veterans volunteer long days, in all weather to provide military funeral honors
Published: Monday, May 30, 2011, 8:30 AM Updated: Monday, May 30, 2011, 11:25 AM
By Beata Mostafavi | Flint Journal
Ryan Garza| Flint Journal
Clio VFW Post 1452 Honor Guard members wait in formation for the next funeral service to start at the Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly Township.
HOLLY TOWNSHIP, Michigan — Their white gloves gleamed against the long, wooden necks of M1-infantry rifles, as the row of men prepared to bid a comrade a final farewell.
Volleys pierced the still, hushed air at the Great Lakes National Veteran’s Cemetery to honor a Korean War veteran, his flag-draped casket just feet away.
As another Memorial Day passes, an aging group of local veterans steadfastly uphold a promise to provide the sacred military honors marking funerals of those who served their country.
“I feel like it’s the least I can do,” said Korean war veteran Bob Moritz, 78, of Vienna Township, who was on the rifle team for more than 100 funerals last year. “We go whether it’s raining, snowing, blowing, wet, freezing or storming. You don’t give it a second thought.”
They travel to cemeteries across Genesee County and the state to join honor guard crews week after week, ready to fill any role needed, from flag-folding to firing rifles to running auto-bugles to play Taps.
They are servicemen from the eras of World War II, Vietnam and Korea. Many are in their 70s and 80s. Some have declining health.
Still, decades after fighting on battlefields, they don’t believe their service is done.
Moritz, who served in the U.S. Army infantry from 1952-1954, has seen the worst of war. Flashbacks of friends who were shot and killed an arms-length away stay with him.
“Most times we don’t know who it is (being buried), but in a way we’re all connected,” he said. “We’ve been through some of the same things, seen some of the same things. We’re all brothers.
“It’s an honor to do this for them.”
Ryan Garza| Flint Journal
Clio VFW Post 1452 Honor Guard members stand at attention as a hearse carrying a fallen soldier arrives during a funeral service at the Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly Township.
In an era when the country is losing its veterans at a rapid pace, more volunteers are asked to join reservists, who also sometimes serve at funerals, to help fill the gaps so military funeral honors can be provided when families request them.
The Great Lakes cemetery now averages 10 burials a day. More than 20 veteran service organizations from around the state are called on to help, including a half-dozen Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion posts from Genesee County.
“It takes a lot of dedication to get out here and spend a day from 9 a.m. to three in the afternoon outside in all kinds of weather,” Great Lakes’ Director Rick Anderson said. “They are committed. They wouldn’t be doing it if they weren’t dedicated to remembering those who fought for the freedoms we have.
“Almost all of them are veterans themselves and know what they went through and know what this means to the families and friends of a veteran.”
Anderson said, at the least, most funerals would not have rifle teams without the local veteran groups, which include volunteers from the Clio, Davison, Swartz Creek and Flint areas.
The old battlefield custom of firing three rifle volleys, followed by the playing of Taps, is still an important ritual to service members.
“It’s something all honorably discharged veterans are entitled to if someone is available to do it,” said Korean War veteran Bob Wilson, 80, of Vienna Township. “It’s important to us to honor our comrades.”
Ryan Garza| Flint Journal
Korean War Veteran Bob Wilson hands 21 polished casings to the widow of veteran Anthony Moreno during a funeral service May 20 at the Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly while volunteering with the Honor Guard from Clio VFW 1452.
Some days are tougher than others. The Great Lakes cemetery that overlooks Fagan Lake is notorious for its frigid wind-chill, especially in the bitter winter months.
During quick breaks in between back-to-back funerals, the men often seek refuge in a small trailer at the cemetery where they can sip hot coffee and thaw fingers and toes.
“I get tired sometimes,” said Vietnam veteran Robert Carroll, 77, of Mt. Morris Township who assisted 120 funerals last year. “My legs give out in the cold from old age. It doesn’t matter. This is our job. It’s respect.”
Most volunteers commit to certain days of the month at the Great Lakes cemetery in Holly Township. On a recent muggy May day, it was the Clio-area Veterans of Foreign Wars’ turn, with members taking on 11 funerals starting at 9 a.m.
It’s a long day, but somebody has to do it, the Clio area VFW commander and Vietnam veteran John Fortney said.
“Everyone is out there for the same reason: To honor a veteran. It’s almost religious,” said Fortney, 69.
The honors mean a great deal to families like that of Korean War veteran Anthony Moreno, a proud grandfather of four, grandfather of nine and great grandfather of 6.
He died May 16 at age 80 — about the same age as some of the volunteers who solemnly delivered military honors at his funeral.
Family members wiped away tears as the Clio veterans shot their rifles into the cloudless sky before a rendering of echo Taps at Moreno’s May 20 funeral at the Great Lakes cemetery.
“He was a proud veteran,” Micheal Moreno, of Shelby Township, said of his father. “It’s an amazing dedication from both veterans and reservists who come out to do this. What an honor.”
Enlarge Ryan Garza | firstname.lastname@example.org
Ryan Garza | The Flint Journal Korean war veteran Bob Moritz (center), 78, of Vienna Township, walks past other members of the Clio VFW Post 1452 Honor Guard as they measure distances to one-another while preparing to stand in formation as a hearse carrying a fallen soldier arrives during a funeral service at the Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly.
Veterans from Clio VFW Post 1452 Honor Guard continue to serve gallery (12 photos)
7. Korean War Memorial Philadelphia is located at Front and Dock Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Last Updated: 29 Dec 2011 13 of 18
South Korean war veterans shout slogans during an anti-North Korea rally in Seoul, South Korea on the day the funeral of Kim Jong-il was held in Pyongyang, North Korea. The letters on the cards read: "Let the wind of democracy blow in North Korea.&qu - 28 Dec 2011
Dutch troops in Korea
Dutch Volunteers fighting in the Korean War
written by Elie van Schilt, veteran NDVN soldier