When Roy Charon left his hometown of Cloquet to serve in the Air Force, he imagined that he would serve in Korea. Instead, he was shipped to an island in the western Pacific. While he was initially disappointed with his post, it turned out to be both memorable and productive.
For many veterans who served in Korea, the war is remembered by the days, weeks and months that they counted down as they waited to come home. Today, some of those veterans are sharing their wartime experiences with young people so their role in history will be understood and remembered.
Those who entered military service during the Korean War had been children during World War 2, and wartime shaped their youth. Many of them grew up with family members who fought and died in Europe or the Pacific Theater. But the Korean War proved to be a very different experience for their generation of veterans.
Roger Gardin enlisted in the Navy and served aboard the USS Laffey, a legendary destroyer that survived several notable battles in World War 2 and was returned to service in the Korean War. Gardin’s most memorable day aboard ship was the daylong battle that he spent inside a gun mount
The men and women who fought in the Korean War were born when many farms still relied on horses. They have been eyewitnesses to massive societal changes. Born between the Greatest Generation and the baby boomers, they are part of an entire generation that is often often overlooked.
When American troops were sent to South Korea in 1950, it was with the goal of stopping the spread of communism there. Two former GI’s who served there explain the US mission that they were charged to carry out, and how the conflict still resonates in the geopolitics of today.
Today, Marjorie Johnson is famous as Minnesota’s “Blue Ribbon baker.” She became a television celebrity and cookbook author after earning thousands of State Fair ribbons for her sweet treats. During the Korean era, she was a military wife, sweet on her husband who served in the Air Force, not on the battlefield but in the dental office, caring for American troops.
While many veterans who were drafted or enlisted during the Korean War did not understand the demands of the battle that they would face, for one Minnesotan, it was a return to service. John Hougen, whose military career stretched across three American wars of the last century, holds a unique perspective on the Korean conflict.
Some of the most difficult situations in the Korean War came in two bitter winters when American troops were poorly prepared to face extended days of subzero temperatures and frostbite. Even Minnesota soldiers who grew up acclimated to months of wintry weather struggled in the harsh conditions.