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Remembering Korea, the 'Forgotten War'

Remembering Korea, the 'Forgotten War'

War began 66 years ago today
Remembering Korea, the 'Forgotten War'
The seven-foot-tall stainless steel statues of soldiers that are part of the Korean War Veterans Memorial, in Washington, Nov. 6, 2015.
Photographer: Zach Gibson/The New York Times

It's a war that often gets lost among all the others.

World War I was to be the war to end all wars. Its greatest legacy is that it didn't.

World War II was the Big One, the one that produced America's Greatest Generation. The one with the epic battles that became national holidays, the one with the ticker-tape parades and the generals who became household names.

Vietnam was the controversial war, the one the hippies of the 60's protested. The one we remember our uncles fighting in, the war for which we had to apologize to our soldiers for our treatment of them upon their return.

The Gulf War, Afghanistan, Iraq, ISIS, the wars that are fresh in the collective American psyche.

But today, 66 years ago, began a war that tends to slip through our collective memories, except maybe when M*A*S*H reruns are on TV.

On this day in 1950, 135,000 soldiers from North Korea's communist army crossed the 38th parallel and invaded the Republic of Korea.

Five days later, President Truman ordered American ground troops be sent in.

It was a war for which America paid a great price, yet never paid great homage. A war that to its participants was every bit as horrible, every bit as frightening, every bit as life-altering as all the others.

On June 25, 1950, the Korean War began.

In the three years and one month that the war lasted, 36,574 American soldiers lost their lives. Included among them are more than 8,200 soldiers who are either listed as missing in action or who were lost or buried at sea. In addition to that, 103,284 American soldiers were wounded.

Like the other wars, this war had its heroes.

One of them was Frederick W. Mausert III, who hailed from Cambridge in nearby Washington County.

Mausert was a sergeant in the Marines serving as a squad leader in Company B when his bravery and dedication to service was put to the ultimate test.

"With his company pinned down and suffering heavy casualties under murderous machine gun, rifle, artillery, and mortar fire ... Sgt. Mausert unhesitatingly left his covered position and ran through a heavily mined and fi re-swept area to bring back 2 critically wounded men to the comparative safety of the lines."

Despite a serious head wound, he continued to lead his troops, running alone into machine gun fire to draw fire away from his troops.

His last act of heroism was the last act of his life: "Leaping into the wall of fire, he destroyed another machine gun with grenades before he was mortally wounded by bursting grenades and machine gun fi re."

In that citation for the Medal of Honor awarded to him posthumously , he was described as "stouthearted and indomitable," who served with “fortitude, great personal valor, and extraordinary heroism in the face of almost certain death."

His story is just one of thousands from the men and women who served in the war many of us forget. Today, on the anniversary of its beginning, we remember.

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