The State of Illinois is commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Korean War by supplying information each month about the state’s involvement in the conflict.
The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, Illinois Korean Memorial Association, and the Abraham LincolnPresidential Library and Museum are sponsoring “Illinois Remembers the Forgotten War” along with media partners the Illinois Press Association and the Illinois Broadcasters Association. For more information, visit www.Illinois-History.gov or www.veterans.illinois.gov.
Illinoisans killed in action in Korea, August 1952 By county of residence
(Source: U.S. Department of Defense records)
Adams Cpl. Alvin D. Baker, Army, August 21.
Cpl. Lester Hammond, Jr., Army, August 14. (Medal of Honor)
Cook PFC Robert T. Alilovich, Marines, August 16.
Cpl. Manuel G. Alvarado, Marines, August 13.
PFC Harvey L. Farmer, Army, August 14.
Cpl. James H. Jack, Marines, August 1.
Pvt. Milan Krainovich, Marines, August 22.
Pvt. Steve J. Kroll, Army, August 25.
PFC Rune Lindahl, Army, August 29.
Cpl. Fred J. Marchert, Jr., Marines, August 1.
PFC Raymond D. Moccio, Army, August 16.
Pvt. Collins Moulden, Jr., Army, August 10.
PFC Anthony Polotto, Jr., Army, August 5.
PFC Norbert C. Sulzer, Army, August 29.
HN Stanley L. Sypniewski, Navy, August 13.
PFC Allen E. Thomsen, Army, August 12.
PFC Kenneth F. Wolf, Marines, August 13.
QMC Raymond S. Parrish, Navy, August 27.
Fayette Pvt. Warren D. Sheafor, Army, August 27.
Franklin Sgt. James L. Antle, Army, August 11.
Fulton PFC Julius E. Slaughter, Marines, August 22.
Henry PV2 Kenneth A. Schlotfeldi, Army, August 1.
Kane HN Gordon W. Thomas, Navy, August 8.
Lake HN John E. Kilmer, Navy, August 13. (Medal of Honor)
Cpl. John F. Popp, Jr., Marines, August 16.
Madison Cpl. Richard T. Schum, Army, August 8.
Mercer PFC Richard J. Allison, Army, August 11.
Peoria PFC Andrew J. Morgan, Jr., Marines, August 26.
Perry PFC Haroldene Bailey, Marines, August 31.
Stephenson PFC Jack E. Baxter, Army, August 14.
Whiteside PFC Ruben C. Cruz, Marines, August 10.
Will Cpl. Arthur A. Mikula, Army, August 16.
Illinois Medal of Honor Recipient
Hospitalman John E. Kilmer, U.S. Navy
Lake County, Illinois
John E. Kilmer of Lake County, Illinois, a Hospitalman with the U.S. Navy, was serving as a medical corpsman with the First Marine Division inKorea on August 13, 1952 when American units defending a hill that the Marines christened “Bunker Hill” came under intense enemy attack. Kilmer repeatedly braved intense enemy mortar, artillery and sniper fire to move from one wounded man to another, administering aid and helping evacuate the injured. Kilmer was seriously wounded by mortar fire, but continued to help his comrades as more and more men fell around him. When the enemy fire intensified, Kilmer used his own body to shield a wounded man from flying shrapnel. Kilmer’s actions saved the wounded soldier’s life, but caused him to lose his own.
Illinois Medal of Honor Recipient
Corporal Lester Hammond Jr., U.S. Army
U.S. Army radio operator Corporal Lester Hammond Jr. of Quincy, Illinois was serving with the 187th Regimental Combat team near Kumhwa,Korea. He was a member of a six-man reconnaissance patrol on August 14, 1952 which had penetrated about 3,500 yards into enemy held territory. The small American patrol was ambushed and surrounded by a larger enemy force, but fought its way up a narrow ravine in search of cover. Hammond was wounded during the initial exchange of gunfire, but remained in the open so he could call in artillery fire that helped repulse several enemy attacks. Hammond was wounded a second time, but continued to direct the artillery fire until a friendly platoon was able to reach his patrol and help them withdraw. Corporal Hammond died from his injuries, but the members of his patrol owed him their lives for the actions he took during that day.
Key events during the Korean War
The month of August began with the American public distracted by the new Jo Stafford hit, “You Belong to Me,” and otherwise following American successes at the Helsinki Olympics. It belied the harsh realities of combat in Korea.
The fight for “Old Baldy,” or Hill 266 that began in July continued into August when American soldiers finally recaptured the crest of the hill from the Chinese early on August 1 and dug in to prepare for a counterattack. That night the Chinese fired more than 2,500 mortar and artillery shells at the crest of the hill where the U.S. 23rd Infantry Regiment was entrenched. Mines, hastily dug bunkers, and additional barbed wire helped to strengthen the U.N.’s hold on Old Baldy on August 2, and extremely heavy and effective artillery fire broke up another enemy assault on August 4.
Another major battle erupted on August 12 as troops from the First Marine Division captured Hill 122 east of Panmunjom and then endured four days of repeated attacks by the stubborn Chinese, who greatly outnumbered the American defenders and pummeled them with artillery and small-arms fire. The fighting became a contest of wills as the two sides often fought hand-to-hand and United Nations aircraft provided desperately needed close-air support. In the end, the Marines hung onto the hill, but wouldn’t have long to savor the victory as the Chinese would attack again in September. The Marines nicknamed the hard-fought piece of real estate “Bunker Hill” in homage to the battle between the British and the Americans during the Revolutionary War.
On August 29 the largest air raid of the Korean War took place as 1,403 United Nations aircraft, including planes from aircraft carriers, bombed the North Korean capital of Pyongyang. Air superiority was one of the U.N.’s greatest assets, extending its reach well beyond the front lines and the brutal combat that characterized the fighting on the ground.
Illinois Korean War Memorial
The Illinois Korean War Memorial is located in Springfield’s Oak Ridge Cemetery, the same cemetery that contains the Lincoln Tomb. Oak Ridgeis the nation’s second most visited burial ground behind only Arlington National Cemetery.
Dedicated on June 16, 1996, the memorial consists of a 12-foot-tall bronze bell mounted on a granite base. At the circumference of the base are four niches, each with a larger-than-life figure representing a branch of the armed services. Inscribed on the base are the 1,754 names of Illinoisans killed inKorea.
The Illinois Korean War Memorial is administered by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency and may be visited daily free of charge.
Korean War Veterans Oral History Project
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum
The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum’s Oral History Program offers “Veterans Remember,” a collection of interviews with Illinois residents about their wartime experiences, at the Library’s website, www.alplm.org/oral_history/home.html. The interviews concern the experiences of Illinois veterans who fought in several conflicts, including the Korean War, as well as the experiences of those on the home front. Visitors to the website can listen to or watch the interviews in their entirety. Several of the interviews have transcripts, and most have still images as well.
Website visitors will need a computer capable of playing MP3 audio files or MPG compressed video files in order to listen to the interviews. The transcripts and still images are also accessible. Volunteers conducted and edited many of the interviews and developed the transcripts that accompany them.
Korean War National Museum
The Korean War National Museum (KWNM) celebrates the 60th Anniversary of the Korean War with a new Board of Directors, new professional staff, and a renewed focus on getting a world-class museum built now, in the lifetime of the Korean War veterans. Recent news media reports outlined a proposal of the KWNM to obtain 7,000 square feet of prime space on Navy Pier in Chicago for a state-of-the-art, world-class museum where visitors could come to honor and learn about the service and sacrifices of the Americans, South Koreans and their UN Allies in the "forgotten victory." Those plans are continuing to be developed, and the KWNM hopes to be able to share some exciting news soon. Meanwhile, the Denis J. Healy Freedom Center, located at 9 South Old State Capitol Plaza in Springfield, is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free, but donations are accepted. The KWNM welcomes donations of photographs, documents, diaries, and artifacts of those who served in the Korean War. To learn more about the KWNM, or to volunteer or donate, please visit www.kwnm.org or look for the Museum Facebook.
Korean War Booklet
The Illinois Korean Memorial Association, an all-volunteer organization, has published a booklet, A Brief History of the Korean War, copies of which have been provided free of charge to public libraries, high schools and junior high schools in Illinois. Individuals may obtain a copy by sending a $10 check or money order to: Illinois Korean Memorial Association, P.O. Box 8554, Springfield, IL 62791.
Tax deductible donations are welcome. One hundred percent of all donations go to the book project and to the upkeep of the Illinois Korean War Memorial.