The Korean War Veterans Memorial Wall of Remembrance, listing the names of the war’s fallen American troops, was dedicated Wednesday with a ceremony on the National Mall.
Made of 100 granite panels, the wall includes the names of the 36,634 U.S. military veterans who lost their lives during the war as well as the 7,174 Republic of Korea troops who died fighting alongside U.S. forces.
The names are organized by rank and branch of service and can be viewed online at https://koreanwarvetsmemorial.org/namesearch/. The first 84 blocks are dedicated to the Army while the next 10 are for the Marine Corps. Names of Navy and Air Force veterans comprise the final six blocks.
Veterans Brendan Rea and his son, Brendan Rea Jr., came to Washington for the ceremony to honor an uncle who died in the war. Robert Kelleher of Hartford, Conn., was an airman first class serving as a radio operator on a B-29 when he was shot down over Korea by a Soviet MiG in 1952.
“When you look at [the wall,] what struck me is how many people passed,” said Brendan Rea Jr., a former sergeant in the Army, who also served in Korea. “Then you look and see all the Korean families 70 years later, and they are still grief stricken.”
The wall is the latest feature of the existing memorial, which consists of 19 stainless steel statues of American servicemen, a mural wall, the United Nations Wall, and the Pool of Remembrance.
Under the guidance of the Korean War Veterans Memorial Advisory Board, the original memorial was constructed over three years and unveiled in 1995. The board was composed of Korean War veterans appointed by President Ronald Reagan.
Cho Tae-yong, Republic of Korea Ambassador to the United States, was one of several Korean dignitaries on hand Wednesday.
“This wall reminds us of the depth of their sacrifice and installs in us that call of duty to carry on their fight,” said Tae-yong. “…We are eternally and profoundly grateful.”
Gen. John Tilelli Jr., USA (Ret.), a former chairman of MOAA’s board of directors, now serves as chairman of the Korean War Veterans Memorial Foundation.
“With this dedication ceremony, I hope this is no longer the Forgotten War, but the remembered victory that was caused by the [U.S. and Korean] veterans,” Tilelli said.
MOAA member Col. Warren H. Wiedhahn, USMC (Ret), fought in the legendary Battle of Chosin Reservoir in 1950 and was on hand the day the memorial was dedicated in 1995. The 93-year-old Wiedhahn served as an assistant to Gen. Raymond Davis, USMC, the former chairman of the memorial board and remains proud that the once “Forgotten War” was honored in such a “prominent way in a prominent place” on the Mall.
Memories of his rescue from the reservoir remain etched in his memory to this day.
“The Chinese blew the bridge and we were trapped behind it,” Wiedhahn said during a July 12 telephone interview. “We could not get out with our equipment. We were huddled side of road for two or three days, waiting for a C-119 (transport aircraft) out of Japan to drop a bridge. But it was overcast, the planes couldn’t fly. One morning, about 2 or 3 a.m., we look up and see a star shining. Everybody looked up and started to cheer. We knew the weather was clearing.”
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