As the nation prepares to remember Monday those who were lost in service, this year may have a deeper meaning as it is the 70th anniversary of the end of the Korean War.
According to the Pentagon, about 37,000 American soldiers were killed during the three year war. The Korean War took place between June 1950 and July 1953 when North Korea and South Korea had at least 2.5 million people killed. The war began when North Korea, supplied by the Soviet Union, invaded South Korea.
Before Kim Il-Sung’s invasion, the United States was involved in rebuilding Korea south of the 38th parallel and training a South Korean army. The United Nations Security Council called for members to protect South Korea. U.S. General Douglas MacArthur led the United Nations Command. The United States made up a majority of the UN’s expeditionary force in Korea.
The United Nations joined the war to defend South Koreans, and China assisted North Korea. After more than a million combat casualties between the two sides, the war ended in July 1953 with Korea still divided into two states.
U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower participated in the conclusion of an armistice that accepted the front line from the war as the boundary between the two countries. The war resulted in the deaths of approximately 2 million Koreans, 600,000 Chinese, 37,000 Americans and 3,000 Turks, Britons and others from the UN forces. The front line has been accepted ever since as the boundary between North and South Korea.
Creston and southwest Iowa troop members were part of the conflict.
Don Mosman, 92, of Creston served during Korea, but not in the war-torn country. He enlisted January 1951 and was sent to boot camp in Texas. Afterward, he was stationed at an Air Force base in New York and was assigned to electronics. He was then sent to a radar surveillance station in what is now known as Alaska as it was not officially named a state until 1959.
“It was in the northwest corner of Alaska; not as far you go north but as far as northwest,” Mosman said. His duty was to watch for air traffic as the Soviet Union was only 200 miles away and the United States was also in the Cold War with the Soviets.
“You could see it,” he said about the other country.
Mosman said the cold was also a literal sense as some winter nights the mercury would drop to -50 degrees. Having to adjust to sunlight hours was also part of the environment. The sun would only essentially move across the horizon during the summer and never fully set as black-out curtains were used for sleeping. During the winter, “there was no sun,” he said.
Mosman speculates to be one of 70 from Union County who joined at about the same time. An enlistment office was in Creston. After a year in Alaska he was sent to finish his service in South Carolina. When he was honorably discharged in 1955, he returned to Creston and continued the electronic work. He was in on the early days of television in Creston as he does not remember a television when he enlisted. He retired in 1991.
Following stories about the end of the war are from Creston News Advertiser July 26 and 27, 1953.
Families of 3 Creston area PWs cheered by truce
“It is a great day” say the families of three Creston area men who are held as prisoners of war by the Communists in Korea as they heard of the signing of the truce agreement at Panmunjon.
But, after months of waiting, they are still waiting for the word of the actual release of the men.
The men from this are whom the Communists are holding are Capt. Clarence Anderson, son of Mr. and Mrs. P.K. Anderson of Creston; Pfc. Donovan D. Waller, son of Mrs. Golds Waller of Creston and Pv. Robert W. Mahrenholz, husband of Mrs. Doris Mahenrholz of Mount Ayr.
Capt. Anderson’s wife has a new home awaiting him in Long Beach, Calif., his mother said. “This news is a wonderful thing. “Mrs. Anderson said today. “It’s hard to realize it has happened after waiting so long.”
Capt. Anderson, an Army medical officer, was captured by the Communists in bitter fighting Nov. 2, 1950. he had remained behind during a United Nations retreat to care for wounded men.
Mrs. Waller is waiting for more word before thinking too much about it. She has been in poor health for some time and has had many disappointments. “We’re looking forward to Donovan’s release and hoping it will come soon,” members of the family said.
Pvt. Waller was captured Nov. 1, 1952. It has been five years since his family has seen him. He entered the Army in 1948 and went to the Far East that same year. The family received seven leters from him within a month. One was written on Mother’s Day. In one he told of having had a hernia operation performed by Chinese doctors. he has recovered and is in good health.
A 2.5 year-old-daughter who was only 2 months old when he saw her last is waiting Pvt. Mahrenholz. he has been a prisoner since April 21, 1951, and was last home in December 1950. “This truce seems too good to be true.” Mrs. Marehnolz said. “But I can’t say too m
uch-I’ve hoped for so long.”