Korean vets gather to ‘reflect on our youth’

Thinking back to the days when they were young soldiers serving their country was a bit easier in late July when the Korean War Veterans gathered for their annual gathering at the American Legion in Blount County.

Leroy Rogers, who organized the first gathering 11 years ago, said the day was a time to remember, reconnect and “reflect on our youth.”

Memorabilia filled tables at the American Legion and 42 veterans, spouses and guests gathered to talk about their days during the Korean War. Rogers says the annual gathering is always the last Saturday in July because it is always close to the anniversary of the cease fire in Korean, which was July 27, 1953.

One of those who came was Cpl. Rex Davis, who is one of the five Davis brothers who were in the Army. All five boys and their father served their country during World War I, World War II and the Korean War, and all came home safe and were not wounded. Rex Davis, who went on to serve as a Knoxville city councilman, had his picture made with actress Patricia Neal while in Korea. In 2003, the cherished photograph brought tears to Patricia Neal’s eyes when it was shared with her during a Knoxville visit, and she met Davis again.

The gathering at the American Legion was punctuated with Walt Boling treating the guests to the sounds of their youth, “and the best music ever written,” said Rogers. “We had the music of the ‘50s, which was the best. Everyone wanted to ‘swing and sway with Sammy Kaye.’”

Rogers had each veteran introduced themselves and their spouse, if present, tell what branch of the service they served in and where they served. Rogers said the men would get so carried away with telling about their service that they often forgot to introduce their spouse, causing more than one veteran to get a nudge from his wife.

Next year, Rogers and his friends are opening the annual event to surrounding counties and expect participation from Knox and Monroe counties, as well as others.

Coming up for the veterans is a trip to Washington, D.C., on Oct. 13-15. Korean War veterans in Blount County have teamed with AAA for the bus trip to Washington. The motor coach leaves Foothills Mall at 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 13, and returns on Thursday, Oct. 15.

The trip includes tours of the Korean War Memorial, Vietnam War Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, The White House, D-Day Memorial and other sites.

There are limited seats still available. Package cost includes two nights at the Hilton Washington at Dulles, two full breakfasts, two lunches and a farewell dinner. Payment can be made at any East Tennessee AAA office by using account number 1406.

Costs are $695 for a single, $495 for double occupancy, $425 for triple occupancy and $395 for four.

For more information, call Paul Hawking at 865-983-9325 or hawkins.paul@att.net.

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