Rutland doesn’t forget Korean War
By Gordon Dritschilo
Staff Writer | June 20,2013
Anthony Edwards / Staff Photo
Korean War Veteran George Bates, far right, points out an ideal location for the new Korean War Memorial Monument in Main Street Park on Wednesday. Also pictured from left to right are veterans Ted Salerni and John Manney, Sean Holden of Holden Memorials and Superintendant of Rutland's Recreation Department EJay Bishop.
City officials have chosen a spot for a memorial to “The Forgotten War.”
Recreation Superintendent EJay Bishop met Wednesday with backers of the effort to put a Korean War memorial in Main Street Park.
“We think we identified a spot,” Bishop said. “If you go right in front of the Fire Department, in that section, it’s between the Marine memorial and the rock.”
Bishop said the location is in front of an ornamental tree and near a bush.
George Bates, who has led the effort, said the group has raised about half of the roughly $12,000 it needs for the memorial, which will be built by Holden Memorials.
“We can probably say we’ve gotten (donations of) $50 up to $1,000,” he said. “It’s all the way in between. ... It looks like we’re going to be in the ballpark pretty good.”
Bates said he hopes to have the memorial in place in about a month.
“We’re all set with the design,” he said. “It’s going to be somewhere in 6-foot height, probably 2 or 3 feet in width. The front surface will be that polished rock, marble/granite-type. What’s going to be on it — there’s going to be some information on the front of it that pertains to why we were in Korea, the people who died there and were injured. On the top will be an eagle with a flag. It’s going to be a nice design.”
Bates arrived in Korea in August 1950, a few weeks after the war began.
“I was flown over from Fort Benning, Georgia,” he said, mentioning stopovers on the West Coast and then Japan. “They were in a hurry to get troops over there. ... I was in the combat engineers. When you’re not doing combat engineer stuff, you’re doing infantry stuff. You’re doing recon, work of that nature.”
More than 300,000 American soldiers served in Korean Peninsula from 1950 to 1953 — roughly 54,000 were killed — fighting to repulse the Chinese-backed invasion of South Korea by North Korea. While the sides signed a cease-fire ending the fighting, the hostilities between north and south never officially ended.
Korea is referred to as the “Forgotten War.”
“Every time somebody talks about wars, they talk about the Second World War and then they go right to Vietnam,” Bates said. “They go right by Korea.”
Bates said he frequently gets asked why the Korean War is overlooked, and that his best guess has something to do with President Harry Truman referring to the war as a “police action” as part of an effort to win United Nations support. He said the term rankles veterans.
“To call it a police action is a real insult to the guys who were killed and the guys who are still around,” he said. “It was a war and it was a victory.”