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Heroes of War

Heroes of War

Story by PFC Edwin Petzke on 02/28/2019

CAMP HUMPHREYS, Republic of KoreaSome look for the shadows of trees to shade them from the heat of the sun, while others go for relaxation and remembrance. The trees at Beacon Hill Memorial Park on Camp Humphreys, cast a shadow over the memorial markers that lie in remembrance of a few Soldiers, but speak for the 5,720,000 Soldiers who fought in the Korean War.

“Remember those Americans who bravely served our nation,” said retired U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Derrick Merriwether, senior enlisted advisor, 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade.

The memorial park pays tributes to Chief Warrant Officer 2 Benjamin K. Humphrey, Capt. Edward Dostal, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Guy Laughlin, Jr., Staff Sgt. Granville Morgan, Sgt. James Smith, U.S. Marine Corps 1st Lt. Baldomero Lopez, and Yi Ung Su, 22nd Korean Service Corp.

The memorial provides a touch of history in the ground for family and service members to learn and remember.

The history of Camp Humphreys dates back to the beginning of the 20th century when, in 1919, the Japanese military built the Pyeongtaek Airfield. During the Korean War, Pyeongtaek Airfield was named K-6 after being repaired and enhanced by the U.S. Air Force to accommodate a U.S. Marine Air Group and the 614th Tactical Control Group. In 1962, the base was renamed Camp Humphreys in honor of Chief Warrant Officer Benjamin K. Humphreys, a pilot assigned to the 6th Transportation Company, who perished in a helicopter accident near here.

Alongside Humphreys, two men stood apart from the others. These two men were posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions.

Capt. Reginald Desiderio, Company E, 27th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, was wounded, but continued to fight and lead his men despite circumstances. After the enemy successfully penetrated his position, Desiderio charged at them with rifles and grenades, inflicting many casualties until he was mortally wounded by gunfire.

U.S. Marine Corps 1st Lt. Baldomero Lpez, platoon commander, A Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division, was wounded while attempting to throw a grenade, but was incapable of doing so. Realizing he had pulled the pin to the grenade, he covered it with his body, shielding his fellow brother-in-arms from the blast.

The memorial park is not only compiled of U.S. service members, but a Republic of Korea service member as well.
Yi Ung Su has marker memorializing his outstanding commitment to the ROK and U.S. alliance.

“We are compelled to never forget while we enjoy our daily pleasures,” said Merriwether. “There are others who have endured and may still be enduring the agonies of pain, deprivation and imprisonment.”

Throughout the Korean War, many men and women in uniform paid the ultimate sacrifice for freedom. These memorial markers speak volumes of remembrance for not only those slated, but for every service member who lost their life or are still in the fight as Prisoners of War or Missing in Action.

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