60 Years After Armistice, Korean War Vets Remembered

Pfc. Paul Weller, USMC Korea 1951
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RENO, NV - Friday was the 60th Anniversary of the Armistice ending major hostilities in what's been called "America's Forgotten War."

It was the first conflict of the Cold War--the free West opposing the communist East on the tangled landscape of the Korean Peninsula.

It began with 75 thousand North Korean troops pouring across the 38th parallel. The men who would eventually fight them and the Chinese to a standstill are now in their 80's.

Some were gathered Friday at Reno's Veterans Administration Hospital for the dedication of a memorial plaque listing Nevada's 37 war dead and a luncheon honoring local Korean War veterans.

Seated among them, wearing a blue cap proclaiming him as a veteran of the Forgotten War and a member of the "Chosin Few" was Paul Weller.

Weller was a 19 year old Marine Corps veteran, a civilian with a young family when the war broke out in 1950.

Expecting activation he transferred into the Marine Corps Reserve and a month after call up found himself in the middle of the battle that would change the course of the war, the Inchon landing.

"When we landed behind them that broke their will because they didn't know if they were going to get cut off. So they were bailing back north so they wouldn't get trapped," he remembers.

With momentum in their favor United Nations troops surged far north. That advance ended in the searing cold of the Korean winter at the Chosin Reservoir facing the Chinese Army.

"We were running about 20 to 30 degrees below zero for 10 to 15 days never sleeping inside," he says.

Then the Chinese entered the war.

"On the night they hit us and half of the weapons didn't want to keep shooting."

It was so cold the lubricants on their weapons jammed the mechanism. Even the flares they fired to try to illuminate the nighttime mass charges by the Chinese wouldn't light properly.

The battle and the cold were deadly. Somehow Weller escaped unscathed.

"Of 15 thousand people when it was over we had 13 thousand casualties and I wasn't one of them. I didn't have a scratch."

And later returning home like other Korean War vets, Weller slipped quietly back into civilian life.

There were no parades and it would be decades before a memorial was built in Washington. Weller's war became America's Forgotten.

"We had a deal. We went and did it. I came home. I had a family to feed I went to work. I never felt neglected."

Today, the Korean Peninsula is still divided, the boundary between North and South set by the front lines when the fighting stopped 60 years ago, but the world might have been a much different place, but for men Weller and others remembered today..