Tribute to Kentucky's Korean War Veterans

Floor Speech

By:  Mitch McConnell
Date: July 30, 2008
Location: Washington, DC


TRIBUTE TO KENTUCKY'S KOREAN WAR VETERANS -- (Senate - July 30, 2008)

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I rise today to honor the service and sacrifice of the hundreds of Korean war veterans living in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. This July 27 marked the 55th anniversary of the cease-fire that ended that conflict.

After 3 years of battle which nearly forced American and South Korean troops from the peninsula, the determination and bravery of our servicemen prevailed. Our heroes in uniform ensured that the people of South Korea would remain free.

Recently, nearly 300 Kentuckian Korean war veterans were recognized for their service by retired Korean Major General Seung-Woo Choi. Major General Choi was a child during the Korean war, but he wanted to say thank you to the brave Americans who fought to protect his and his family's freedom. So he traveled from South Korea to my hometown of Louisville, KY, to honor them.

I ask unanimous consent that the full newspaper article describing this ceremony be printed in the Record. I know the entire U.S. Senate stands with me to recognize the tremendous valor of our veterans, and to honor the sacrifice of those who did not return.

There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:
[From the Louisville Courier-Journal, July 25, 2008]

Korean War Vets Honored: S. Korean General Presents Medallions
(By J.D. Williams)

Looking back, Joseph Scott said he is thankful to be a veteran of the Korean War.

In 1950, Scott joined his two brothers, James and Talmadge, and enlisted in the Army.

Yesterday, the 77-year-old and nearly 300 other Korean War veterans from Kentucky were honored at the Kentucky Exposition Center for their service.

``I'm thankful I was there,'' Scott said of the war. ``It was quite an experience.''

The veterans were given a medallion designed by retired Korean Maj. Gen. Seung-Woo Choi, who came to Louisville from South Korea to honor them. Choi was a child during the Korean War, but has made it a priority to offer his thanks to veterans of the war that ensured South Korea's freedom.

Since 2002, Choi has presented over 5,000 medallions to veterans across the nation.

People from various veterans' organizations spoke at the event, and the Kentucky Korean Women's Choir performed.

``The sacrifice you made for the Korean people has not been forgotten ..... you saved our freedom,'' said Charles Park, a native of Korea who is with the Korea Foundation of Kentucky.

Marilyn Mullins, 67, the widow of Edward Mullins, said her husband would have loved to be there. He died in April 2007 of complications from diabetes.

``I wish he could have been here to accept it himself,'' Mullins said of receiving the medallion. ``He would have been glad to meet the general.''

She said the medallion is the only award her late husband has been presented. She said he was supposed to receive the National Defense Service Medal, the Korean Service Medal and the United Nations Service Medal, but they never reached him.

James Hall, 76, of Bowling Green, said he was glad to be with fellow Korean War vets.

Hall, who was 18 when he was deployed to Korea, was in the battle at Chosin Reservoir, which he called a ``horrible place at a horrible time.''

He said the severe cold with snow and without heat and warm food was nearly unbearable, but soldiers endured to ensure South Korea's freedom.

``I had tried to put a lot of things about Korea out of my mind, but it was wonderful to be with the veterans I served with,'' Hall said. ``It reminded me of how important it was for us to be there so South Korea could be free.''