New monument honors Korean War veterans
BATH — The Korean War sometimes is called the “Forgotten War,” but the names of the soldiers from Aiken and surrounding counties who were killed, died or imprisoned during the war will live forever on a new monument in the Horse Creek-Midland Valley Veterans Park.
Members of the Harold F. Adkinson Chapter 255, Korean War Veterans Association, dedicated and unveiled the monument Saturday. More than 50 family members and friends of the soldiers immortalized on the monument’s marble face attended the dedication ceremony under clear blue skies.
“Why are we here? Well, we’re not going to forget the names of the people we’re honoring today We’re not going to forget the people either,” said Marvin D. Timm Sr., the chapter’s adjutant, to begin the ceremony. “As long as that marble stands there, we can go by, and we can see it. You may see some of your friends names on there. You may see a relative’s name on there. That’s why we’re here.
“That’s what makes all of that worthwhile. The time and energy and cost of that monument are nothing compared to what those men gave. They gave their lives so that we would have the freedom of sitting there today and remembering them. That’s why we’re here.”
Many in the audience agreed with quiet and appreciative “amens.”
The monument will be a permanent reminder of the sacrifices the men whose names are chiseled into the marble made for America during the Korean War, said Richard Johnson Jr., the chapter’s second vice commander, who spearheaded efforts to erect the monument in the park.
“Every name on that monument or any name on that monument could have been our name,” he said. “We’re grateful for the opportunity to erect this monument, which will be a lasting legacy of those who served during the Korean War from 1950 to 1953.”
The monument also will be a legacy to the Harold F. Adkinson Chapter. After years of providing refreshments to soldiers in the VA Hospital and awarding certificates and Korean War medallions to graduating ROTC seniors from 21 high schools, the chapter is disbanding.
“We didn’t want to just lock the door and walk out. We wanted to do something more tangible,” Johnson said.
“We have 30 to 40 members, but they’re not active,” he said. “Because of Father Time, we’re past the point where we can meet and do the things we normally do. We’ll miss that, but our time has come.”
During the ceremony, Kenneth Gray remembered his uncle, Freddie H. Gray from Warrenville. Freddie Gray, who went in to the Signal Corps at 17, was captured three weeks after arriving in Korea. He was in a prison camp in China three years.
For most of that time, his family did not know what had happened to him. But when he was released, Kenneth Gray’s father and his four brothers drove to San Francisco to meet him.
“He was our family’s hero,” his nephew said.
After coming home, Freddie Gray went to work at the then Savannah River Plant in 1953 or 1954 and spent his entire career there. He died about three years ago.
Kenneth Gray said “it seems there’s not enough appreciation for the sacrifices that soldiers make.”
“A lot of people don’t realize the loneliness of a soldier. He’s not at home with his family. He doesn’t know if he’s going to come home. I experienced that myself in Vietnam, and my dad was in World War II,” he said, adding that his father’s brothers all served in World War II.
Roland Beard played sports in high school with three of the soldiers honored on the monument: Harold F. Adkinson, Harold Carter and Freddie Lee Bradshaw.
“Harold Carter and Freddie were killed at the Chosin Reservoir in Korea, as I recall. They were in the U.S. Marine Corps,” said Beard, who also is a Marine veteran. “I’m glad to see them honored, and I recognize the sacrifices that they made.”
Guest Speaker the Rev. Dr. Douglas A. Slaughter, the pastor of Second Baptist Church in Aiken, said he applauded all the men and women who served in the armed forces.
“This day is our day to say thank you to those who gave so much – their lives,” he said. “I believe with all of my heart that we have to thank not only them but also all of you here today, too, because to lose a husband, a wife, a brother, a sister, a nephew, a niece, a cousin – that’s a sacrifice for you, too.”
Before the unveiling of the monument, Timm read the “Last Roll Call,” saying the name of each soldier on the monument as Johnson rang a bell in each one’s memory.
Korean War veterans from Aiken County who were killed in action, died of wounds in action, missing in action or prisoners of war were Harold F. Adkinson, Donnie E. Bell, Freddie Lee Bradshaw, Kinney Bryant, Harold Carter, Edwin D. Chavous, David S. Muns, Stanley T. O’Banion, Roy Robinson, Wesley H. Johnson, Ross H. Davis, Ernest Little Sr., Rudolph C. Garland, Freddie H. Gray, Robert E. Hatch, George Hook, Carol B. Ross, Elvin A. Rutland, Carl Weatherman, Jack D. Whittle, Eugene Williamson and Jack W. Yon.
Veterans from Allendale County were Hansel Bunton Jr., Samie Capers, William H. Funchess, Willie L. Johns, Julius E. O’Neal, Richard B. Ready and Harvey H. Smoak.
Veterans from Barnwell County were Jack McDonald, Elijah Odom, Jerry A. Ratliff Jr. and Melburn H. Eldridge.
Veterans from Edgefield County were Johnnie J. Mathis, Memminger A. Nicholson, Eulia Padget, Issac Andrews, Joseph W. Hamilton and Clifton H. Watson.
Veterans from McCormick County were Henry P. Agnew and John T. Harris.
Veterans from Saluda County were Solomon Emanuel, Gilbert Bryant Jr., Artis Abney Jr., Thomas M. Maffett and John G. Miller.
The Horse Creek-Midland Valley Veterans Park is at 1600 Augusta Road, Burnettown.