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Culture

Former Marine Recalls Feeling 'Forgotten' in Korea

http://ozarkspub.vo.llnwd.net/o37/KSMU/audio/mp3/60yearslat_6882_0.mp3

The Korean War began 60 years ago Friday when North Korea invaded the South. President Truman was in his home in Independence, Missouri, when his Secretary of State delivered the news. Within a few short weeks, US Troops were preparing to come to the defense of South Korea, even though war was never officially declared. One soldier who was among them was a young Marine by the name of Clifford Auberry. On Friday, he joined KSMU's Jennifer Moore by phone in Springfield.

Auberry went to Korea just a few months after the invasion in 1950, and he stayed through 1951.

"Well, I was a Marine, and I was pretty proud to go over there. But I felt like we were forgotten over there," he said.

"We didn't have equipment. We didn't have food. And other than our folks, we didn't hear from anybody," Auberry said.

He made two major landings in amphibious tanks, and said South Korea was "pretty well shot up" by the time US troops got there.

I asked him what emotions he feels when he hears the Korean War referred to as the "Forgotten War."

"Well, it's not very good emotions. We felt that way when we were over there. Only our families seemed to be the only ones who knew we were in Korea. And they said it wasn't really a war, that it was a police action," he recalls.

He said the weather was extrememly cold, but the troops were inadequately supplied: he says he and his buddies were left without winter clothes and adequate food.

"We just ate whatever anybody would give us. I got down to where I could wear a 26 around the waist when I left Korea," he said.

General McArthur was fired when Auberry was in Korea; he recalls there being different reactions to that decision.

"We didn't get anything when we came back to the States. Nobody was there to greet us or anything," he said.

For some reason, his name didn't appear on the roster when he returned home, and he was told that he would have to go back to Japan or Korea.

"I said, 'You might as well shoot me, because I'm not going back.' Because I froze over there, and I starved, and I had just had about as much as I could handle," he said.

Auberry says he has kept up with the conflict between North and South Korea.

"I think it will break out again someday," he said.

Auberry joined me by phone from the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 963 in Springfield.

Even though a cease-fire was signed in 1953, the conflict between the North and South remains to this day.

For KSMU News, I’m Jennifer Moore.