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Area Korean War veterans raising funds for memorial

It’s only a pipe dream, but wouldn’t it be fitting if the proposed Missouri Korean War Veterans Memorial in Kansas City could be dedicated next June on the 60th anniversary of the Korean War?

So say members of the Missouri Korean War Veterans Memorial Committee, which is spearheading the statewide campaign to raise $1.5 million to construct the granite memorial wall in Washington Square Park at Pershing Road and Main Street.

For the pipe dream to become a reality, the committee must raise at least $1 million from private donors before work on the beautiful memorial can commence on property donated by the Kansas City Parks and Recreation Department. The memorial honors all Missourians who served in the Korean War.

Once construction begins, the committee estimates it will take another six to nine months to complete Missouri’s official Korean War Veterans Memorial bearing the names of 919 Missourians who died in the three-year war, often referred to as America’s “Forgotten War.”

The memorial will bear the names of 111 Jackson Countians, including Independence native Sgt. Charles Richard Long, who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. Other Independence veterans who paid the supreme sacrifice on the Korean peninsular: Pfc. Jack B. Cloin, Pvt. William E. Giffen, Tech. Sgt. Paul Emil Meister Jr., Cpl. Kenneth W. Onka, Pfc. Walter M. Pollard, Pvt. Joseph R. Vandeventer Jr., Cpl. Earl C. Willoughby, Sgt. Lewis William Zwarka and Pvt. Ralph E. Ring of McAllen, Texas, formerly of Independence.

Citizens can make donations in any amount to the memorial. Individuals, families and businesses can also make monetary contributions on five gift levels. The contributor’s name will be prominently displayed on the wall and will reflect the chosen level of giving. Levels include: Memorial – $1,000 to $1,999; Bronze Memorial – $2,000 to $4,999; Silver Memorial – $5,000 to $9,999; Gold Memorial – $10,000 to $24,999; Platinum Memorial – $25,000 and above.

Another option of recognition is through a black granite bench memorial, a laser-etched photo memorial and granite-paver memorials.

For more information call Al Lemieux, 816-804-2757. Make tax-deductible checks payable to: Mo. Korean War Vets Memorial. Mail to P.O. Box 193, 520 W. 103rd St., Kansas City, Mo. 64113.

Trying to raise enough money to build this unique memorial and provide a trust fund to maintain it, isn’t the memorial committee’s only focus. It’s also trying to raise funding to establish a Web site providing biographical information on all Missourians who died in the Korean War, says Charlie Barnes of Lake Lotawana, a member of the Simpson-Hoggatt Detachment of the Marine Corps League.

Part of the intent, Charlie says, is to verify the names of all Missourians killed in the Korean war and obtain more personal information about them.

“We want to put some flesh on the biographical information we put on the Web site,” the Vietnam War veteran says.

The person putting most of the flesh on the biographical data is David A. Tanquary of Overland Park, Kan., a member of the Kansas City Chapter 2 of the Korean War Veterans Association.

Calling himself a local history buff, David says he wondered how many area military personnel had died in Korea, and who they were. Since no one could tell him, he launched his own investigation.

That was 16 months ago. Today, David is still on the prowl gathering biographical information, personal stories and photographs. His research, he says, has uncovered many intriguing stories about many of the 200 or so Kansas City area veterans who died in Korea.

“I know, for example, when and where and under what circumstances that almost all of them died in Korea,” he says, as well as when and where they went to school, where they lived and who they really were.

So that no one who died in the Korean War is slighted, David urges anybody knowing anything about such a person to leave his or her name, telephone number and e-mail address on the current Web site: www.mokoreanwarmemorial.org. David says he’ll return all calls and reply to all e-mails.

Wanting to promote the campaign to obtain more names for the memorial, Ed Becker of Independence wrote the following poem entitled “The Korean War Memorial”:

The Korean War was quite a ride.

Many a score were wounded and too many died.

How they died would make one long editorial;

But, we must get their names for the Korean War Memorial.

If we get their names, they will be listed there.

So if you know of them, give their names for us to share.

The memorial will list them for all to see.

To be reviewed by many they will always be.

Becker, a member of the Simpson-Hoggins Detachment of the Marine Corps League and a corpsman in the Korean War, says he felt compelled to write the poem because he thought it was appropriate.

Noting he was stationed at Camp Pendleton in 1951, Ed recalls rendering aid to soldiers who returned from Korea with arms, legs, eyes and parts of their intestines missing.

“Who knows? he says. “I might have taken care of scores of those who died before they went (to Korea) or after they came back (from Korea).”

Charles says he grew up being told the Korean War, in which three million combatants and 50,000 Americans lost their lives, ended in a stalemate.

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Address: Simpson Hoggatt 984, DAV, 14650 E US Hwy 40,
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