GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – When Walter Towns enlisted in the Marine Corps as an 18-year-old fresh out of high school, he dreamt of someday having a family, a home, a car and a job. He served in Korea for only six months – from March to September 1951 – but twice, those dreams were put in jeopardy when Towns was wounded by the enemy.
Towns, the recipient of two Purple Hearts, was one of 69 residents of the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans today honored for their service during the Korean War.
“I don’t talk about my service much because most people forget about the Korean War,” Towns said. “But the bullets they shot in Korea were just as real as anywhere else. I was fortunate to serve a great country and take care of others while I was in Korea, and I was fortunate to get all the things I’d dreamt about once I got home.”
The Korean War Commemorative Ceremony recognized Korean War veterans living at GRHV and thanked them for their role in defending democracy and freedom in South Korea. During the ceremony, each resident received a certificate of appreciation for his service, while Towns and the 21 other residents who served in Korea were also awarded the Korean Ambassador for Peace medal by Jae-woong Lee, deputy consul general of the Korean Consulate General in Chicago.
Often referred to as the “Forgotten War,” the Korean War began less than a decade after World War II. Hostilities took place from June 27, 1950 – two days after North Korea invaded South Korea – until July 27, 1953 when the Korean Armistice Agreement was signed. Following the armistice, many American troops remained in South Korea to help alleviate the uneasy peace.
“Whether they were stationed in Korea, Europe or in another theater, our Korean War veterans answered the call to serve the same as every other soldier,” said Jeff Barnes, director of the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency. “More than 60 years ago, these men and women were asked to put their civilian lives on hold and protect the people of South Korea. Today, we thanked them for that service and let them know that no veteran should be forgotten.”
During the Korean War, 6.8 million American men and women served in the U.S. Armed Forces. Of those, 1,456 Michiganders lost their lives.
Michigan is home to nearly 65,000 Korean War veterans.
Contact: Lauren DeVol, MVAA, 517-284-5236