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Op-Ed Special
“A Sporting Life and the Forgotten War”
Special Contribution
By Don E. Porter
Incheon Landing: This file photo dated on Sept. 15, 1950 shows LSTs unloading at Incheon, port city just west of Seoul barely 3 months after the outbreak of the Korean War (1950-53). American forces landed in Incheon harbor one day after Battle of Incheon began. The battle also called the Incheon Landing was an amphibious invasion code-named Operation Chromite. Through the successful battle the UN forces recaptured S. Korean capital of Seoul three weeks later. 75,000 troops and 261 naval vessels were mobilized for the battle.

As the Winter Olympics concluded in Pyongchang last month, I recall Leaving South Korea in May 1952 via Pusan on a troopship bound for Sasebo, Japan and then to the U.S. I recall the endless days, weeks and months away from home, some 15 months and a wife of less than two years.

Last month I sat viewing television and the Olympics in PyongChang and seeing a divided Korea coming together at least for several weeks.

I have mixed emotions, can the Koreas come back together in peace and reunification, or is it too much for a totalitarn regime planning nuclear destruction really want unification?

I recall vividly in my mind a 30 below zero morn in late 1951 landing aboard an LST (landing ship tank) in Inchon harbor and eventually moving north. For a twenty-one year old, that didn’t even know where Korea was and then to move through the capital of Seoul and its total destruction. Forward to 1988 and the Summer Games in Seoul, a city rising from the ruins that I saw back in 1952.

My recall also goes back to the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia, while there I had a chance meeting with then UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. I mentioned to him about being in Korea in 1951-52, he said to me “thank you for helping to save our country”. I replied, “It was worth it”.

Fast forward a recall to 1994 in Pyongyang, North Korea, when on a sport mission, myself and a sport coach were taken to the memorial for Kim Il-Sung who has passed away a month before we arrived, and to view his lying in state and trying to mask my emotions, as the “Dear Father” who was responsible for the terrible mass destruction and killing of millions.

The current President is Kim Jong-Un, the grandson of the “Dear Father.” And then in mind to view the difference of the two Koreas, one, a modern upscale democracy and one, a totalitarian of destitute totally failing its citizens.

A second visit to Pyongyang in 2004 saw not much change, a regime stuck in time from 1994 and beyond.

So today, even though the cheerleaders and hockey players from the North were making news and getting attention, far more than they should, the Games went on and the medals show brightly around the necks of the aspiring athletes.

The Olympic Committee tries to bring a day or weeks of peace and are commended for trying but, when the cheerleaders and hockey players returned home, nothing will have changed, the leader with the bad haircut will still be preparing his missiles and threatening the South and West. A recent announcement about a meeting between Kim and President Trump is an important move.

But, as an old acquaintance, Nelson Mandela once told me, “Don’t ever give up”, maybe there is a way and may be PyongChang or a Kim/Trump meeting is a start?
The “Forgotten War” is not forgotten!



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The above writer, Don E. Porter, the Korean War's American veteran, serves as contributing writer for The Seoul Times. He has been serving as president of the International Softball Federation (ISF) since 1987. He can be reached at depcoop1@gmail.com

 

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