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Korean War Veterans from across the nation attended observance

Arlington, VA – President Barack Obama has participated in a special program along with Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) and other senior government officials that honored Korean War Veterans and commemorated the 60th Anniversary of the Signing of the Armistice that ended three years of fighting on the Korean Peninsula following North Korea’s invasion of the Republic of Korea in June 1950.

President Obama provided keynote remarks at the event, held at the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. “The Republic of Korea today has one of the world’s strongest economies and is a staunch U.S. ally due to those service members who made the ultimate sacrifice and the service and sacrifice made by our Korean War Veterans,” said Colonel David J. Clark, Director of the Department of Defense (DoD) 60th Anniversary of the Korean War Commemoration Committee. “What people need to understand is that the Korean War was a ‘Forgotten Victory’ and marked the end of Communist aggression in Northeast Asia.”

Of particular significance to the African American community is the fact that the Korean War was the first war in which America fought with a military force that was officially integrated, as authorized by the President of the United States. President Harry Truman signed an Executive Order that ended segregation in the U.S. Armed Forces in 1948; it took effect in 1950 while the Korean War was raging. That meant African American and white soldiers fought Communist forces, side-by-side, in horrible conditions and on challenging terrain. Of the 600,000 African Americans who served in the Armed Forces during the Korean War, it’s estimated that more than 5,000 died in combat.

During his remarks on July 27, President Obama made special note of these facts. He also alluded to the fact that the first government entity to be officially integrated was the U.S. Military and that the results of that action benefited the nation tremendously, once the Korean War had concluded.

The program on July 27th paid tribute to all Korean War Veterans and commemorated the signing of the Armistice. In addition, United Nations Allies that provided combat troops, medical teams, and other support were also recognized. Also in attendance were veterans and survivors from the first victorious battle during that war, won in July 1950 by the 24th Infantry Regiment, the nation’s oldest African American combat unit. In addition, members of the 231st Transportation Truck Battalion, another African American unit, attended the ceremonies. The 231st was the only Maryland National Guard unit ordered to active duty to support the Korean War.

The Department of Defense 60th Anniversary of the Korean War Commemoration Committee, authorized in the 2011 Defense Authorization Bill, is dedicated to thanking and honoring all the Veterans of the Korean War, their families and especially those who lost loved ones in that war. Through 2013, the Committee will honor the service and sacrifice of Korean War Veterans, commemorate the key events of the war, and educate Americans of all ages about the historical significance of the Korean War.

For more information, visit our website at www.koreanwar60.com Keep connected with the Department of Defense 60th Anniversary of the Korean War Commemoration Committee via Facebook and Twitter, through videos at YouTube or with photos on Flickr.

PHOTO CAPTION: Among the African American heroes recognized during the 60th Anniversary of the Korean War Armistice on July 27 in Washington, DC was U.S. Navy Ensign Jesse L. Brown, the first African American naval aviator to die in combat. Ensign Brown was shot down while providing close-air support for units of the 7th Marines during the Chosin Reservoir battle in December 1950. Of the 600,000 African Americans who served in the Armed Forces during the Korean War, it’s estimated that more than 5,000 died in combat.

Brown was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for performing dangerous combat actions that resulted in his fatal crash. In March 1972, Brown’s widow christened a Knox-class ocean escort ship the USS Jesse Brown.

CNN recently ran several stories about the quest of one Korean War veteran, retired Navy Captain Thomas Hudner, who had recently returned to North Korean in an effort to retrieve the remains of his fallen comrade, Jesse Brown. Capt. Hudner was flying his plane to support Ensign Brown’s mission on December 4, 1950 when Brown was shot down. Hudner crashed his own plan in an unsuccessful attempt to save Brown. Capt. Hudner was later awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his valiant efforts.

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