AVON LAKE, Ohio - Korean War veterans lined up for a well-deserved dinner honoring them for their service at the Avon Lake American Legion Post Tuesday afternoon.
After American Legion organizers discussed a possible ceremony during Marine Week in Cleveland early this year, Post 211 veterans' pulled off an amazingly well-attended ceremony while working with the Department of Defense. It’s amazing because it has been more than 60 years since most of these vets have seen Korea and its battlefields.
Ken Karpy, an Army Sergeant during the Vietnam era, was instrumental in organizing the ceremony.
"This is a great example of how we can pay tribute to our Korean War veterans for the hell they went through for three years," Karpy said.
Keynote speaker Army Col. David J. Clark is the Department of Defense’s director of the 60th anniversary commemoration committee. He flew in from Washington, D.C. to honor Ohio's vets.
"In the 60 years that have transpired since the end of that war, we now know what an incredibly important chapter in history that really was,” Clark said.
“It wasn't immediately apparent because it was the first shots of the Cold War, but now 60 years later, through the lens of history, look at how that war transformed Northeast Asia,” Clark said. “The Republic of Korea today is one of the world's leading economic powers, it's an ally of the United States, and their presence in Northeast Asia has stabilized that region.”
"Without the sacrifices and service of our Korean War veterans that wouldn't have been possible."
More than 100 Korean veterans were honored, including two more who were recognized after being brought home decades later. The DNA of the remains were matched to their families this year.
Marine Pvt. Clarence Huff, Jr. and Army Cpl. Pryor Gobble's certificates were delivered to each of their families at the end of the dinner. Their long-time MIA status garnered a final tribute in the packed house of Post 211's banquet room.
Gobble's youngest brother, Glen, was only 13 when he went missing in North Korea. Pryor Gobble's remains were of the 13 bodies given back to the United States Armed Services by the North Koreans in 1994.
"It's really bittersweet knowing we have lost a brother, but we had realized we had lost him years ago,” Glen Gobble said. “But it is bittersweet that he is back home in our country and we do have the peace of knowing that he was put away peacefully.”
“I cannot say enough about the military, the way they handled the service. They gave him a military funeral with full honors and it was just fabulous and we thank them so very much.”
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