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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : features : features October 13, 2015

11/6/2012 1:09:00 PM
Troops of ‘Forgotten War’ get recognition
Wilbur Quick was just 15 when he signed up for the U.S. Army in 1952 and headed off for South Korea.
Wilbur Quick was just 15 when he signed up for the U.S. Army in 1952 and headed off for South Korea.
Veterans from the Forgotten War present at a lunch, receiving 60th anniversary Certificates are (l-r) Bob Powell, Leo Zuercher, Joe Joule, Wilbur Quick and Merl Floyd.
Veterans from the Forgotten War present at a lunch, receiving 60th anniversary Certificates are (l-r) Bob Powell, Leo Zuercher, Joe Joule, Wilbur Quick and Merl Floyd.

Jon Hutchinson
Staff Reporter

COTTONWOOD -- Within hours of the official time of the Korean Armistice, Wilbur Quick remembers, “We were throwing everything we had at them, and they were throwing everything they had at us.” But when the declaration was signed July 27, 1953, the ‘forgotten war’ was anything but forgotten.

Wilbur joined the Army in 1952, but the Army wasn’t his first choice. “The Navy turned me down. The Marines turned me down. The Air Force turned me down. They wanted a birth certificate, so I joined the Army.”

Wilbur was only 15 and wouldn’t officially qualify until he was 17.

He had been raised in foster homes in Upstate New York and he was looking for a way out. Wilbur enjoyed life on the farm in Walden near Newburgh, but when he was transferred to a new home, he felt it was time to go.

A lot of other soldiers in the Army were also as young, Wilbur remembers, but not so young as the North Korean combatants, who could have been 13.

“I arrived on the USS General Mann and left on the USS General Meade.” Wilbur grins from the recollection. From the time he arrived in South Korea in 1952 he parachuted behind enemy lines. Wilbur was in and out of the hospital four times.

He fondly remembers one hospital stay and a subsequent R&R in Japan.

“I don’t know why anyone would jump out of a perfectly good airplane,” an Air Force pilot joked at him later.

“You have no fear when you are young, but I don’t think I would ever do that again.”

The back and forth push for control of Korea began at the 38th parallel and ended there just more than three years later. It all got its start with the end of Japanese surrender to the Allies at the end of World War II and their rule of the Korean peninsula. At that time the North surged south pushing the Allies deep to the bottom of the peninsula in a densely fortified area of 50 miles by 100 miles around Pusan, the Pusan Perimeter.

Gen. Douglas McArthur, who had perfected the amphibious rear attack during World War II, had already prepared that strategy and despite opposition from superiors and peers, implemented the plan at Inchon, sending the northern troops scrambling back where they came from all the way to the Yalu River, which divides Mongolia from North Korea

But that wasn’t the end of it. Thousands of Chinese came pouring down from the North and eventually resettled the line at the 38th parallel

Wilbur served in the 24th Infantry Division, 164th Ranger Battalion, and was based for a time at the Hialeah Compound at Pusan.

He later discovered that his brother, Elmer, who joined the Navy, helped protect the infantry from off shore from the destroyer J.C Owens.

Wilbur served two terms, a total of seven years, in the Army. In fact he returned to Korea, the second time to defend the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).

In 1995, he joined other vets in traveling to Washington to see the dedication of the Korean War Veterans Memorial. Many believe it was a long time coming. The inscription on the Pool of Remembrance reads “Our nation honors her sons and daughters who answered the call to defend a country they never knew and a people they never met.”

The memorial is a triangle of 19 troops representing all services intersecting a circle. The greater-than-real-life figures are faced by a wall of granite with photographs etched in the surface representing the air, sea troops supporting the ground forces.

This year, at the 60th Anniversary of the Korean War, Wilber Quick and other Korean War vets received a certificate of appreciation for their service.

“Everybody wants to forget it, but I got news for them; no one that fought in the Korean War will forget it,” Wilbur insists.

Taylor Waste
Related Stories:
• Editorial: In Honor of Our Veterans
• Life and death in the Ia Drang Valley
• Memories of Vietnam often the silence within

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Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, November 12, 2012
Article comment by: Slater Slater

Hey Wilber,
Done any parachuting ,lately?

Slater, lol

Posted: Monday, November 12, 2012
Article comment by: I dream of giving birth to a child who asks, Mommy, what was war?

Only war profiteers win wars.

Posted: Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Article comment by: DragonMaster 6

My father could never forget because he re-lived the terror and uncontrolled rage every day of his life from then on!
He had destroyed all relationships of family and friends with incredible violent drunken behavior and us kids didn't know why. He was the worst kind of wife beater one could imagine and I'd asked him, "Why do you hate kids and women so much?" He was finally remanded to a State hospital for the criminally insane where I found him as a young adult. He explained to me what had happened in Korea and I don't know if I could have done any better!
All wars have the same effects on normal loving men who just want to live their lives until trained and required to go far beyond their most hideous imaginations and emotions just to survive. This is true for WW2 vets, Korean, Vietnam Iraq with everything before in between and after.
To all Korean war vets please live long healthy happy lives with those whom you love and with all Americans gratefulness with respect and admiration.

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