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This is the last Veterans Remembered column in a series written in support of the veterans monument being built for all veterans of Lancaster County.
Veterans Remembered is written to stimulate readers to remember those veterans who touched their lives and to provide support for the Veterans Monument Project.
Remembering is necessary and is a part of our character as individuals and as a community. Remembering veterans is necessary for historic purposes as well as providing moral understanding for present and future generations.
A quote from the founding words of Decoration Day, “Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.”
The Heath Springs Area Veterans Monument stands as a testimony to the character and moral understanding of all in Lancaster County who supported this project. The monument and the names on it are a reminder for future generations of the realities of military service and war, that it not be forgotten what a tiny minority does for a great majority.
This Veterans Remembered is what some refer to as the Forgotten War. I sometimes see bumper stickers that read, “I Remember Korea.” For those who survived Korea and are living today, it has not been an easy topic for discussion. Three Korean War veterans granted me a brief interview and each provided a picture.
W4 Warrant Officer Carl B. Parker enlisted with the Lancaster National Guard April 3, 1947, and 43 years, eight months, and 19 days later on July 20, 1990, he retired. Carl Parker is one of six brothers to serve in the National Guard and his oldest son, Lt. Carl Roger Parker, has been the only casualty suffered during all the military service of the Parker family.
From Aug. 14, 1950, through Aug. 2, 1952, Parker was in Korea with most of this time on the line with a tank battalion assigned to the 2nd Infantry Division He was also required to perform duties as the first sergeant of the tank battalion. All of these duties were outside his specialty of a motor maintenance sergeant with the 713th Triple A Battalion in Lancaster.
“This was a result of Heart Break Ridge,” Parker said. “Soldiers were pulled from wherever they could be found to fill the gaps on the line. During a six-month period under combat conditions on the line I had six different company commanders.
“I don’t have any good memories of Korea except that I was able to survive and the Lord answered my prayer and 1 was able to come home and raise my family in this great nation.”
One of Parker’s 15 decorations is the Korean Service Medal with three battle stars. He has been inducted into the S.C. Army National Guard Warrant Officer Hall of Fame.
Parker is No. 217 on our veterans monument. We remember him for his distinguished service to our country and the support the Parker family has provided for the Veterans Monument Project.
Our second Korean War veteran is John T. Cauthen and we congratulate him on being veteran No. 64 on our monument.
Cauthen was drafted July 30, 1952, and spent the first 16 weeks training at Fort Jackson before being shipped to Korea in January 1953.
“I was assigned to the 461st Infantry Battalion, a division of the 8th Army,” Cauthen said. “We were all over Korea, we had to move fast and in June 1953 we didn’t move fast enough. We were dug in two men to a foxhole and I was in a foxhole with Pvt. Parker from Beaufort, S.C.
“We were being overrun and under mortar fire. A mortar exploded right on us and I didn’t know anything until I woke up in an aid station. I was told Parker was killed and I had a piece of shrapnel in my skull. I was sent to Tokyo, Japan for surgery.”
After two weeks in Tokyo, the doctors told Cauthen they couldn’t operate for fear of brain or nerve damage. Cauthen was sent back to Korea with two unwanted companions. Fifty-eight years later the shrapnel is still with him and often a headache.
Cauthen was given a Purple Heart, an M-l rifle and put back on the front line until January 1954. Cauthen’s stateside assignment was the 258th Combat Engineer Battalion, Fort Campbell, Ky.
“It is hard for me today to express my feelings,” Cauthen said, reflecting on Korea. “Parker was killed in an instant and I am here 58 years later just thankful for the small things in life, cool when it is hot and warm when it is cold, a good family that loves me, proud to be an American.”
The third Korean War veteran is Paul Reeves. Reeves said he was drafted Sept. 25, 1950, and after two weeks at Fort Jackson, was sent to Camp Polk, La., assigned to 120th Combat Engineer attached to the 45th Infantry Division of the Oklahoma National Guard.
“We shipped out in April 1951 and stayed on the water for 30 days, arriving in Japan May 1951,” Reeves said. “We didn’t leave Japan until December and arrived in Korea Dec. 4, 1951, and it was 40 below zero.
“We relieved the 7th Cavalry Division north of the 38th Parallel and we were all over Korea in support of other units. We built bridges, repaired roads and whatever was necessary for support. My main job was working in the armory. I repaired small arms, 45-caliber pistols, M-1 rifles, M-1 carbines and M-2 carbines.”
Reeves has no fond memories of Korea.
“Korea was desolate, there were places with nothing, no vegetation, no birds, just a sign post to tell you where you were. The good thing about Korea was that I survived, and yes, I remember Korea,” he added. “I’m proud of my military service and I’m proud that my children honored me by putting my name on the veterans monument.”
The veterans monument represents and celebrates all veterans. Some gave all, but all gave some and it took all to get the job done – all branches of service in war and in peace representing freedom.
The Veterans Monument Committee is so proud of everyone who has provided the support to build this monument one name at a time and one brick paver at a time.
We salute you and thank you for remembering those veterans who touched your lives. You have built this monument. Thank you.
Come join us at 2 p.m. Nov. 12 as we dedicate the Heath Springs Area Veterans Monument to all veterans. Let us remember together and to be the testimony for coming generations that we have not forgotten the cost of our freedom nor have we forgotten the names of those who sacrificed their lives and their time.
Charles Ussery is vice president of the Heath Springs Veterans Monument Committee.