- The Washington Times - Monday, November 14, 2005

Partnership honored near Arkansas birthplace of MacArthur

LITTLE ROCK — Ground was broken here this past weekend for a Korean War memorial near the spot where Gen. Douglas MacArthur, a national hero in Korea, was born.

Mayor Jim Dailey of Little Rock, Arkansas Secretary of State Charlie Daniels, South Korean Consul Bon Yul-kou and Kyo Bum-lee, the mayor of Little Rock’s Korean sister city, Hanam, took turns with gold-tinted shovels under an overcast sky.

In the crowd of 200 gathered at MacArthur Park, near downtown Little Rock, were U.S. Reps. Vic Snyder of Little Rock and Ike Skelton of Missouri, both Democrats, along with officers from four branches of the military services and a group of Korean men in black and gray suits — members of Mr. Kyo’s “globalization committee.”

But A.W. Busbea of North Little Rock and an aging Korean flag stole the show.

Through most of the ceremony, Mr. Busbea, 80, sat in a cushioned folding chair off to the left of the podium, with only a light jacket and a hat adorned with military campaign ribbons protecting him from the cool air and threat of rain. The flag hung limply from a wooden dowel at his side.

Doyle Herndon, president of the Arkansas Korean War Veterans Memorial Foundation, spoke from the front porch of the MacArthur Military History Museum, once the U.S. Army Arsenal commanded by the general’s father in the years after the War Between the States. A banner brought by the Koreans, which misspelled Arkansas as “Arkanass,” was erected over the site. Mr. Herndon said that half of the $600,000 needed for the memorial has been raised.

“Because of the 36,500 men who died there, the Republic of Korea is a free country today,” Mr. Herndon said. “These veterans did not fight and die in vain.”

[The Korea Times, an English-language newspaper in Seoul, reported last week that a memorial erected near Hanam City to Gen. MacArthur, who commanded U.N. troops in Korea until he was relieved by President Truman, had become a source of controversy. Korean radicals denounced MacArthur as “a war criminal” for preventing the unification of South Korea with the Stalinist North, and other Koreans who regard MacArthur as a hero have taken turns guarding the memorial from vandals.]

The memorial is to be finished in August, to educate about the Korean War of 1950-1953 and symbolize the partnership of the United States and South Korea.

Octagon-shaped, the memorial will feature white marble walls and brick paths, a bridged koi pond in the center, and two bronze soldiers atop the bridge. A plaque will list names of the more than 400 Arkansans who died in the war.

Mr. Busbea told of landing at Inchon with the U.S. troops who took Seoul from the communists, and of a Korean man who gave him a tattered red, white and blue national flag of Korea.

He took the American flag from the front of his ammunition truck and replaced it with the Korean flag, and carried it through the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, when 20,000 U.N. troops, mostly Americans, fought 120,000 Chinese in below-zero weather so cold that it was impossible to dig foxholes in the hard-frozen ground, medics held morphine vials in their mouths to keep them from freezing while they tended wounds, and nearly everyone suffered frostbite.

With the flag in hand, Mr. Busbea told Mr. Daily how he had kept it when he returned to civilian life in Little Rock and now wanted to send it back to Korea.

The mayor called over Mr. Kyo and his entourage and through a translator explained Mr. Busbea’s wish. The group huddled for photographs and the old soldier held the flag high.

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