Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Korean War vets remember start of conflict

TAMPA — George McMaster remembers it all.

That last glimpse of the United States as he sailed off to war. The subfreezing temperatures of winter in North Korea. The seemingly endless supply of Tootsie Rolls that helped keep him alive.

"It's always been called the Forgotten War," said McMaster, 82. "Of course, it will never be forgotten by those who served in it."

On Saturday, dozens gathered to commemorate the 62nd anniversary of the start of the Korean War with a ceremony at Veterans Memorial Park east of Tampa.

McMaster, who served in the Marine Corps Reserve from 1948 through 1952, recounted his experiences at the Chosin Reservoir.

"We had no helicopters, no armored vests. We fought with World War II weapons and WWII rations," said McMaster of Brandon. "It was a very violent war."

The Korean War began on June 25, 1950, and lasted three years. More than 33,000 American troops were killed and 100,000 wounded, according to the U.S. Department of Defense. Today, more than 7,500 soldiers remain unaccounted for.

Donald Denny, 80, knows he could have been among the lost.

Denny spent 27 months as a prisoner of war in Korean war camps. On Saturday, the Army infantryman recalled the grueling tasks and near-starvation he endured.

"POW camp is not like a prison here," said Denny of Clearwater. "I could do prison here standing on my head."

The ones who survived, Denny said, often grew up poor like him. When there was food to eat, it was often only sorghum, peanuts or cracked corn. Every morning, the prisoners were forced to recite the Chinese national anthem in Chinese.

"Talk about degrading," he said. "But if you want to eat, you do things like that."

Denny made it a point, though, to push the guards to the limits.

"I gave those people a hard time from the day they captured me until the day I was released," he said.

He's thankful he made it out alive. It's the soldiers who were left behind that still haunt his mind.

"With a little place like North Korea," he said, "it's ridiculous they won't let us back in there to get them."

Shelley Rossetter can be reached at srossetter@tampabay.com or (813) 661-2442.

Korean War vets remember start of conflict 06/30/12 [Last modified: Saturday, June 30, 2012 9:39pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Innovocative Theatre company debuts with workmanlike production of 'Proof'

    Stage

    TAMPA — A new company debuts with Proof, David Auburn's Pulitzer-winning play. Innovocative Theatre, founded by Dunedin native Staci Sabarsky, is currently running productions out of Stageworks Theatre space. Sabarsky also directs and performs in the show.

    Dennis Duggan plays Robert Marie-Claude Tremblay plays Catherine in Innovocative Theatre's first production, Proof, by David Auburn. Photo courtesy of Staci Sabarsky.
  2. Largo company's bomb-detecting laser device shows promise in finding fentanyl

    Military

    A retired Green Beret who runs a Largo defense company that makes bomb-detecting equipment sees a new use for his laser-based technology: Detecting the dangerous opioid fentanyl from a distance to protect law enforcement personnel and help with prosecutions.

    Tim Molner with Alakai Defense Systems of Largo demonstrates how a company device uses laser technology to analyze chemical residue from a safe distance. [JIM DAMASKE   |   Times]
  3. Clearwater Beach driver: 'My intentions were to take my own life'

    News

    CLEARWATER — Ryan Michael Stiles stuck close to the dunes and blared his horn when he drove onto Clearwater Beach last Thursday afternoon. He didn't want to hurt anyone there, he said in an interview from the Pinellas County Jail on Tuesday morning.

    Ryan Michael Stiles, 27, was arrested last Thursday after driving onto the sands of Clearwater Beach, police said. He is currently being held at the Pinellas County Jail.
  4. After Trump's partisan speech, Boy Scouts of America reiterates that it is 'wholly non-partisan'

    National

    Following President Donald Trump's campaign-style speech at the National Scout Jamboree in West Virginia on Monday evening, the Boy Scouts of America released a statement that did not comment on the president's remarks but stated that the nonprofit organization is "wholly non-partisan and does not promote any one …

    Members of the Boy Scouts of America listen as President Donald Trump addresses the 2017 National Scout Jamboree at the Summit Bechtel National Scout Reserve in Glen Jean, W.Va., on Monday. [Doug Mills | New York Times]
  5. Florida Gators want a White Out in home opener

    Blogs

    At least the Florida Gators are trying to do something to spice up this season's home opener.