Veterans of the Forgotten War were given their due, in some small part, when Maryville city officials gathered to dedicate a bridge in honor of the men and women who fought in the Korean War.
On Sept. 19, veterans, city officials and other dignitaries gathered at the Cusick Street Bridge that goes over the Greenbelt Park near the Alcoa/Maryville line to dedicate the bridge, honor the veterans and unveil the signage.
Hattie Myers of Alcoa said the bridge dedication was important to Korean War vets. “The Korean War veterans didn’t get recognized,” she said.
Her husband, George Myers, said his fellow Korean War veterans have waited a long time for recognition while veterans of other wars have been honored. “Our group is about the only one not represented. That’s the reason they call it the Forgotten War.”
Former Knoxville City Councilman Rex L. Davis said half his outfit was wiped out in the war. “I took it seriously,” he said of the conflict.
Davis said he appreciated the bridge being dedicated to Korean War vets. “It’s the first thing recognizing Korean War vets with any notoriety.”
City councilman Tommy Hunt said the city wanted to recognize the service and sacrifice of the young men and women who served in Korea. Mayor Joe Swann said the city council heard from several veterans asking that the bridge be dedicated to Korean War vets. “Those of you who served in the Korean War, we’re all indebted to you,” Swann said.
Roy Crawford, Sr. said history has shown that the war they fought helped people’s fortunes flourish. “South Korea has become a shining example of what people can do when they’re given freedom to do so,” he said.
Dr. Tom Kim M.D., said he was 6 years old when he was taken out in Korea. His father was a physician who the Communist party attempted to recruit. Kim and his family fled to South Korea. His father came to the United States in 1952, and Kim came in 1951. He was educated at Milligan College and often came to Maryville College.
Kim praised the Korean War veterans and said he wanted to take a one-day trip and fly as many local vets as possible to see the Korean War memorial in Washington D.C. “Korean War veterans are not being recognized,” he said.
Leroy Rogers said his second day in country was harrowing and showed him how dangerous the action was in Korea. “One shell hit within 5 yards and didn’t explode,” he said.
Roger led the lobbying effort to get the city council to dedicate the bridge to Korean War vets. The 78-year-old said he was 21 when he was drafted. The conflict was a violent and deadly ordeal as 131 Congressional Medals of Honor were awarded but 91 of the recipients were given them posthumously.