You are now crossing the 38th parallel.
The Korean War is often referred to as the “Forgotten War” receiving considerably less attention than World War II, which preceded it, and the Vietnam War, which succeeded it. However, for those who laid their lives on the line it is hardly forgotten.
The Upson Historical Society is urging those who served during the Korean War to come forward and tell their stories. Joe White, a veteran, was the first to document his story, and now a new name joins him on the list.
Neal French enlisted at the age of 18 in 1954. Though he would never see combat, French said he decided to tell his story to “get the ball rolling.”
“If it’s made public, then people will know what they went through,” he said. “People need to realize. There’s a lot more that can be said, more than I can say because I never went over there.”
French was encouraged to tell his side of the story by Albert Edmonson, long time supporter of the Living History Project that has documented several accounts of WWII.
“We want to get the word out to all our Korean Veterans that this is not a forgotten war to us,” Edmonson said. “We appreciate Neal for sharing his experience with us. If anyone else wants to share his story, all he has to do is call the Archives.”
French was stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina through the duration of the war. He served with the 82nd Airborne.
“While I was training, things were calming down,” French said. “They kept us ready, but I never made it over to fight.”
French says he believes the war was overlooked at the time.
“I think people thought we were doing the wrong thing,” he said. “But we still have our freedom because of them.”
The Korean War was initially called a police action that involved forces from the United States, South Korea, North Korea, China, United Kingdom, France, Turkey, Canada and Australia.
A reported 36,516 American troops died, 92,134 were wounded, 8,176 missing in action and 7,245 were prisoners of war.
“I think the viewpoint of the war has changed over time,” French said. “People are coming to realize that we did the right thing. Vietnam was the same situation. It took a while, but now it’s being recognized.
“I’ve visited the Korean Memorial in Washington, and it is very impressive, but all the memorials up there are impressive.
“These men deserve to be remembered. I know that others have more interesting stories, but I guess I’m just breaking the ice to try and get them to talk.”
Anyone interested in sharing his or her story can contact the Archives at 706-646-2437.
Pictured: Neal French (second from left) receives a copy of his Living History interview from Albert Edmonson. Also shown are Walter Brown and Britty Dickens who serve on the Veterans Committee. The Living History Project is an ongoing effort to document local accounts of war. Anyone who is interested in participating can contact the Archives at 706-646-2437.