On June 25, 1950, the Communist forces of North Korea, with backing from the Soviet Union, invaded their neighbor to the south. President Harry S. Truman ordered American troops to the Korean peninsula where they were soon joined by soldiers from 15 other United Nations member countries. The Korean Conflict had begun.
Today, it is considered the “forgotten war.” It began just five years after the end of World War II and has been overshadowed by the Vietnam War. But the statistics are staggering.
A total of 1,789,000 Americans served in Korea. 36,940 lost their lives. 8,176 are still listed as MIA.
After three years, the fighting ended with the signing of an armistice on July 27th, 1953. There was no victor. Peace was never declared. The country remains divided to this day.
One of many forgotten heroes was Phillip Kulbes. He was Captain of the 2nd platoon, company D of the 10th combat engineers. Kulbes received a Silver Star for his role in the battle of Chosin Reservoir. There, Kulbes and a battalion of engineers held off the advancing Chinese army – in 35 degree-below zero weather – while building a forward command. “Kulbes’ Mongrels” were completely cut off by the Chinese, and against all odds, were able to punch a hole through their flank and escape back to base. When told they were the survivors of Company D, they were meant with disbelief that anyone could have survived their ordeal. Kulbes saved about 300,000 civilian lives and was decorated by an ambassador for the South Korean president for his bravery.
Kulbes died on October 29th, 2007 at the age of 90. His story is commemorated in two books, “To The Last Man!” and “War Dawgs: Kulbes’ Mongrels” by Franklin D.R. Ketsner.