Jim Escalle: Just wanted to share this story I wrote about a well-known Korean War veteran.

My uncle, 2nd Lt. Jim Escalle, arrived at K-13 (Suwon) at the end of February 1953. If he would have gotten there a couple of weeks sooner, he could have witnessed an incident involving a well-known fighter pilot, a crash landing that some people still talk about today whenever the pilot’s name is mentioned.

On February 16, 1953, a Marine Corps fighter pilot from VMF-311 was flying his F9F Panther as part of a 200-plane strike force against Kyomipo, about 15 miles southwest of Pyongyang, North Korea. During the run on his target, a troop encampment, enemy ground fire knocked out his hydraulics and electrical system. Struggling to regain control of his aircraft, he gained altitude and headed for the nearest air base, which was K-13.

Fire and rescue crews at K-13 were alerted as the dark blue Marine jet was seen coming in low and fast, trailing smoke and a 30-foot ribbon of fire. Too low to eject, the pilot brought his crippled jet in, making a belly landing and skidding, with sparks flying, for almost a mile before finally stopping. The nose quickly burst into flames that threatened the cockpit. The pilot blew off the canopy and dove headfirst onto the tarmac, where he was quickly grabbed by a couple of flight crewmen and taken away.

It didn’t take long for the Air Force pilots and ground personnel at the base to recognize that the tall, lanky Marine pilot who got out of the burning jet was Ted Williams, the Boston Red Sox slugger. He had been recalled to active duty and had arrived in Korea earlier that month. A lot of the guys got his autograph and several took photos, including the one shown here by George Robert Veazey, a pilot in the 36th FBS. He was Aerodrome Officer that day and saw Williams crash land his jet. It was a story to definitely tell the folks back home.

(photo by George Robert Veazey)

The Fairness for Korean DMZ Veterans Act of 2017

Representative Thomas McArthur (NJ) and Senator Jerry Moran (KS) introduced H.R. 3605 and S. 2038, respectively, the Fairness for Korean DMZ Veterans Act of 2017.

Currently, VA regulations provide that any veteran who, during active military, naval, or air service, served between April 1, 1968, and August 31, 1971, in a unit that, as determined by the Department of Defense, operated in or near the Korean demilitarized zone (DMZ) in an area in which herbicides are known to have been applied during that period, shall be presumed to have been exposed during such service to an herbicide agent.

This bill would define the exposure to herbicides as a veteran who, during active military, naval, or air service, served in or near the Korean DMZ, during the period beginning on September 1, 1967, and ending on August 31, 1971.

In accordance with DAV Resolution No. 025, we support this legislation to recognize September 1, 1967 as the earliest date for exposure to herbicides on the Korean DMZ. This change will provide veterans greater equity with respect to herbicide exposure and the presumptive diseases associated with it.

Please use the prepared letter or draft your own to urge your Representative to support and cosponsor H.R. 3605.

Thank you for your continued advocacy through the DAV Commander’s Action Network (DAV CAN)

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Veterans recall smells, cold of Korean War

www.army.mil – WASHINGTON (Army News Service, June 25, 2010) — War stinks. According to one veteran of the Korean War — which started 60 years ago today — it stinks specifically like coal and kimchi.

Richard Whittle stood June 23 before an audience at the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Washington, D.C., to tell his story based on memories of the Korean War. He called his story “Coal Pile and Smellin’ Kimchi.”

Whittle said he arrived in Pusan, Korea, Jan. 31, 1953. He was assigned then to a railroad unit in the engineering section.

“My job was to push coal in a pile as it was being unloaded,” he said. “But that only lasted for a short time, until I learned to operate the crane. Then they gave me a crew of four and we worked seven days a week, around the clock, keeping the steam engines rolling, carrying supplies and troops to where needed.”

At night, he said, North Koreans flew suicide missions overhead. “If they saw a light from anything below, they would drop a bomb in that area.”

He said it was rumored the bombs were homemade and “no two were alike.” And the planes, he said, weren’t much better. “Their flights were a one-way trip, and when they ran out of gas they crashed,” he said.

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