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Korean War Veterans to be honored at Tattoo
Bernie DeLong, a Korean War veteran, entered the Army Reserve in 1948. In 1950, he switched to the Air Force to fly fighters and “rise above the fray.” He flew F-84Ds and Gs in Korea starting in April 1953 and completed 69 air-to-ground missions by July when the armistice was signed. Mr. DeLong and four other Korean War Veterans will be honored for their service during the Freedom’s Call Tattoo June 25 on the grounds of the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force (Courtesy photo)
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Freedom's Call Tattoo to honor five Korean War vets

Posted 5/14/2010   Updated 5/17/2010 Email story   Print story

    


by Mike Wallace
88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs


5/14/2010 - WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- Five veterans of the Korean War -- retired Marine Sgt. Maj. James Snyder, Jack Perry, Bernie DeLong, Russell Harrod, and Sam Morgan -- will be honored for their service during this year's Freedom's Call Tattoo June 25 on the grounds of the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.

This sixth annual Freedom's Call will honor the contributions of our military veterans, their families, and all Americans who supported them with a presentation that will include flyovers, music, narration, and fireworks.

Air Force Materiel Command hosts the event at Wright-Patterson to highlight Air Force Airmen and Air Force capabilities and strengthen bonds with neighboring communities. Pennsylvania native Bernie DeLong entered the Army Reserve in 1948. In 1950, switched to the Air Force to fly fighters and "rise above the fray." He flew F-84Ds and Gs in Korea starting in April 1953 and completed 69 air-to-ground missions by July when the armistice was signed.

"We flew a mission almost every day, sometimes twice a day," said Mr. DeLong.

Assigned to Taegu Air Base in the southern part of the peninsula, Mr. DeLong recalled it took about 30 minutes to fly up to near the Yalu River which marked the border between North and South Korea. He also recalled dive bombing missions which drew anti-aircraft fire -- including from quadruple .50 caliber machine gun emplacements effective under 3,000 feet where many of his missions were conducted. He bombed dams, roads, railways and personnel shelters.

Mr. DeLong earned the Distinguished Flying Cross and two Air Medals. He now resides in Washington Township near Dayton, Ohio.

Russell Harrod grew up in Dayton. In 1952, he and a friend saw a John Wayne movie that motivated them to enlist in the Navy, and within months, Mr. Harrod was aboard the USS George Clymer as a radar gun station director. He made two trips to South Korea, picking up ammunition and Marines to take them to Inchon. He said the area was shallow, and they used boats called LCVPs to take men, supplies and equipment to the beach, and bring men back.

Following the Korean War, Mr. Harrod helped evacuate French military members, survivors of the battle of Dien Bien Phu, and others to leave Vietnam. Of the Korean Conflict, Mr. Harrod said, "There were people a lot smarter than I am who thought it was necessary. In the end, I just did my part and never looked back."

When he was just 14, Jack Perry of Fairborn, Ohio, joined the Army at a recruiter's office in Dayton, Ohio. He said that nobody ever asked him his age. While training ROTC cadets at Fort Benning, Ga., in June 1950, Mr. Perry learned that war had broken out. He said he was told, "They're losing troops fast, and you've been picked to go."

After nearly a year and 10 major battles, he was within three days of being eligible to go home, but 15 miles behind enemy lines. Eventually surrounded and without any ammunition, Mr. Perry and the remnants of his unit became prisoners of war. Mr. Perry spent 28 months as a POW, the youngest in the Korean Conflict. He said that out of approximately 750 who began a march to the POW camp, only 235 finished. Spending time in solitary confinement for two escape attempts, he eventually was repatriated, and made a career at Wright-Patterson AFB.

Of the war, Mr. Perry said, "It was a lifetime experience that I wouldn't want to go through again. I sacrificed my youth."

Kettering, Ohio, resident, Mr. Snyder, dropped out of high school in January 1950 to enlist in the Marine Corps. He recalled having "one-and-a-half hour's" notice that a war had broken out and he was heading there. He landed at Inchon, and went north to the Chosin Reservoir, the site of one of the most savage battles of the Korean Conflict. He said, "It was a mess. We had cold weather gear, but it was good only down to about 20 degrees, and we faced minus 35 degrees."

Weapons failed and men froze to death. The United Nations forces -- mostly Marines -- numbered about 15,000. Surrounding them were as many as 120,000 Chinese troops. The battle lasted from Thanksgiving to the second week of December.

Mr. Snyder said, "The weather was bad, cold with very low visibility. But during any break in the clouds, Marine, Navy, and Air Force planes gave us support." Mr. Snyder said that there were nearly 12,000 Marine casualties (reportedly, the Chinese suffered 40,000 casualties).  The Marines broke out of the encirclement, and eventually were evacuated.

Today, Mr. Snyder serves as president of the Korean Veterans Memorial Association, holds the Purple Heart, and is a life member of the Chosin Few Survivors of the Chosin Reservoir Battle.

Sam Morgan, a Xenia, Ohio, resident, got his draft notice in 1951. He and a friend "wanted to go into the Navy, but it was full, so we both joined the Marines."

Assigned to the Third Marine Division's motor transport battalion as a company clerk, Mr. Morgan spent most of his enlistment in Camp Pendleton, Calif. Married in 1950, he recalled that he and wife, also an Ohio native, "traveled across the country by car six or seven times (2,300 miles one-way) to go home."

Deciding to get out of the service rather than re-enlist, Mr. Morgan had to go to the Naval Gun Factory, Washington D.C., for a discharge. After that, he went back to work, eventually becoming a law enforcement officer first in the Fairborn Police Department and later in the Greene Country Sherriff's Department where he retired in 1979 as chief deputy.

As a Korean Conflict era veteran, Mr. Morgan said he feels honored to be part of the upcoming Tattoo, and is looking forward to taking part in the event.

Look for more information about Freedom's Call Tattoo 2010 on Facebook by becoming a fan of AFMC_Now. You can also follow AFMC_Now on Twitter or visit www.wpafb.af.mil/tattoo for additional event information.



tabComments
5/19/2010 4:00:56 PM ET
I worked with bernie Delong for over 20 years. He is a fine man husband father and friend. Congratulations on this recognition and thank you for your service to this country. He is a true hero
Jim Sutton, Indianapolis
 
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