KOREAN WAR 1950-1953
(AP) The war that began in Korea 60 years ago, on June 25, 1950, a ghastly conflict that killed millions and left the peninsula in ruins, became “The Forgotten War” in many American minds. To a shrinking corps of aging men, however, the soldiers of Korea 1950-53, it can never be forgotten. It damaged many physically, scarred many mentally, and left men questioning their commanders’ and their nation’s wisdom. They fought many enemies – not just the North Koreans and Chinese, but also the heat, the killing cold and the cursed hills, the thirst, hunger and filth, the incompetence and hubris of their own army, and the indifference of an American homeland still fixed on the “good” war, World War II, that had ended five years earlier.
In a wartime arc of desperation, triumph, retreat and final stalemate in Korea, no U.S. division sacrificed as much as the 2nd Infantry Division, losing more than 7,000 killed, one-fifth of total 36,516 U.S. dead. And it is the 2nd Infantry Division that still stands guard over South Korea today.
Soviet soldiers on the march in northern Korea in October of 1945. Japan had ruled the Korean peninsula for 35 years, until the end of World War II. At that time, Allied leaders decided to temporarily occupy the country until elections could be held and a government established. Soviet forces occupied the north, while U.S. forces occupied the south. The planned elections did not take place, as the Soviet Union established a communist state in North Korea, and the U.S. set up a pro-western state in South Korea - each state claiming to be sovereign over the entire peninsula. This standoff led to the Korean War in 1950, which ended in 1953 with the signing of an armistice -- but, to this day, the two countries are still technically at war with each other.