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Camp Pendleton to Dedicate New Korean War Monument Tomorrow

I've heard people describe the Korean War as the 'forgotten war." And sadly I believe it's true. Sometimes we get so caught up in discussions of the Vietnam War and those accompanying turbulent times, or in the all of the histrionics of World War II with D-Day and Adolf Hitler and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, we forget that a very brutal and significant war was fought in-between.

The only real reference point many of us have to the war in Korea is the movie and television show "M*A*S*H," which depicted a medical army surgical hospital during that conflict. In the Korean War, which began just five years after World War II, 36,000 U.S. servicemen were killed and another 92,134 were wounded. And those who served during that era deserve to be remembered and respected.

The Marines at Camp Pendleton remember. Tomorrow, Korean War veterans ' 250 in all ' will be at the base to pay tribute to their fellow warriors. The veterans will be dedicating a Korean War memorial monument at the South Mesa Club on base on at 10 a.m. tomorrow to honor comrades who fought in the conflict, according to Camp Pendleton representative Lance Cpl. Damien Gutierrez.

Evan Keliher, 79, who lives with his wife in Rancho Bernardo, is a former Marine who fought in Korea. He was sent to the front lines just after Thanksgiving, 1950. He remembers riding up a mountain on the back of a truck with some fellow Marines, and when they reached the top, within a few hours there were Chinese troops all over the place.

"It was 35 below zero at night, we got frost bite sleeping outside," he says. "My 18-year-old brother, who was in the Army, was killed in that war. I remember most of my fellow Marines, we did our job, but we didn't really think we should have been there, it was a kistake. It was not unlike Vietnam in that way. But I'm glad they're having a memorial for the veterans of that war. We need to give more attention to those guys, and we need to do more for veterans when they come home. It's a disgrace the way veterans are treated in this country."

During Wednesday's ceremony, General James T. Conway, Commandant of the Marine Corps, will assist in presenting the monument in honor of the veterans. The monument is a very large plaque, I'm told, but Marines officials won't tell me what's on the plaque until it is unveiled tomorrow.

The dedication coincides with the 60th anniversary of the Korean War's Battle of Inchon, which began on Sept.15, 1950 and ended a few days later. According to historians, the Battle of Inchon brought about a strategic reversal of events in favor of the U.S. and United Nations forces. It was a daring amphibous invasion that historians say fractured the North Korean war machine.

The Korean War, which began on June 25, 1950 when North Korean forces invaded South Korea, was the first significant armed conflict of the Cold War. It was a conflict between South Korea (the Republic of Korea), which was supported by the United Nations, and North Korea (the Democratic People's Republic of Korea), which was supported by the People's Republic of China, with air support from the Soviet Union.

The threat of a nuclear war eventually led to an armistice on July 27, 1953, which restored the border between the Koreas near the 38th Parallel and created the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), a 2.5-mile-wide buffer zone between the two Koreas.