- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 28, 2002

It took more than 50 years for Ron DeVore to see a monument with his face emblazoned upon it.
Yesterday, at long last, the silver-haired Army veteran of the Korean War gazed upon the face of the young man that was him in 1952. There he was, big as life, part of the Korean War Veterans Memorial on the Mall.
As he stood in front of the black marble wall with the more than 2,500 images of men and women who served in the Korean War, Mr. DeVore, 69, thought about those who didn't make it back to their homes and their loved ones all the courageous soliders who didn't survive the war that started June 25, 1950, and ended July 27, 1953.
"This is my first time to the memorial, and it's difficult to know what to say. Basically, I'm a country boy, and I have no idea why I was selected to be on this wall. There are so many more who are more deserving of this honor. When I first saw it, I was so happy I could have cried because of the way the Korean War veterans have been treated. It's often called the forgotten war," said Mr. DeVore, of Edmonton, Ky.
"We didn't come home to parades. I was discharged, and nobody met me. There were no bands; there was no fanfare," he said.
But yesterday, the veterans of one of the bloodiest wars in history got their due during the Korean War Veterans Armistice Day Commemoration Ceremonies on the Mall. About 1,600 veterans, dignitaries and civilians showed up to salute the Korean War vets during an hourlong ceremony under overcast skies at the Korean War Veterans Memorial.
"You know, as I stood in front of the wall, I felt respectful silence for others. I was lucky my cousin's body was shipped back home," Mr. DeVore said, referring to a cousin who also served in the Korean War.
Mr. DeVore, who was with the 623 Field Artillery, Headquarters Battery, attached to the 10th Army Corps, stood near another Korean War veteran, David P. Smith, 72, who lives in Northwest. The two men served together but didn't know each other when they were stationed in Korea.
When the Korean War broke out in 1950, Mr. Smith joined the all-black 24th Infantry Regimental Combat Team, also known as the Block House Soldiers, military descendants of the Army's famous Buffalo Soldiers. Mr. Smith, who mustered out as a sergeant after the war, fought on the front line for nine straight months.
"They thought I was one of those who got killed. Most of my buddies in the infantry and artillery were killed," he said.
"It was a nasty war; we didn't have the equipment to do the job. We were trained well, but by the time we got the equipment, it was time to come home," he said.
Mr. Smith, a retired White House staffer, was one of 70 Korean War veterans who was honored this year for his service in the Korean war, a half-century after the cease-fire with North Korea. As if it were second nature, he easily recited some of the major battles like they had taken place yesterday: the Han River, the Haymon Front, Pork Chop Hill.
"We crossed the Han River twice and Old Baldy we burned with napalm and flame throwers we had to use it all just to survive," he said.
Both men stood at attention and saluted during the missing-in-action portion of the ceremony.
As the sounds of "Amazing Grace" echoed throughout the grassy area, everyone present took a moment to reflect on the men and women who never returned from the forgotten war.


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