June 25, 1950. The date probably doesn’t mean much to many Americans, but that is the date the Korean War began. If you were a young man on that date in 1950, the expectation was clear — military service was not far away.
The United States still had a draft in 1950 and it wasn’t long before the military camps became lively with draftees, and those who enlisted. If you were between your junior and senior years, most draft boards let you finish college, provided you were in good standing grade-wise. Mostly the draft was taking 21-year-olds and 22-year-olds in the beginning.
Working careers were interrupted. Many World War II veterans who were in the Army Reserves or the National Guard were called to duty.
For many, when news came of the invasion of the South by communist North Korean troops, young men had to look at an atlas to find out exactly where Korea was located in the world.
There were no protests when President Harry Truman ordered our military to be part of the United Nations’ effort to stop the invaders. It was the first war fought by U.N. forces. It was the first war in which jet aircraft flew combat missions against each other and the first of many skirmishes in the Cold War between the communists and the U.S. It also was the first war in which POWs from the U.S. underwent attempted brainwashing by the enemy.
There was a great fear of communism when the war broke out. Korea’s population in 1950 was about 30 million. Saturday, June 25, 1950, North Korean troops stormed across the 38th parallel with the objective to take over the South and unify Korea under the North’s control. An estimated 90,000 troops from the North, equipped with Russian weapons, crossed into the South. They met only token resistance by the outnumbered South troops.
Gradually, the U.N. forces, mainly U.S. troops, forced the North back across the 38th parallel and the war continued until July 27, 1953, when a ceasefire ended the fighting.
The Forgotten War it was called. It can never be forgotten by the American troops that fought in Korea. Who won? The South was saved from the communist North. That was a victory.