- Today is 6.25; the anniversary of the start of the Korean War in 1950.
- Perfect day to think about, appreciate and honor the sacrifices of Korean War Veterans like this Silver Star recipient SSG John Baker who was stationed in a ritzy hotel in Tokyo doing SIGINT but found himself in the horrific conditions of the Korean War just one week later.
- For someone like me who's a Korean linguist that spent two decades researching anything and everything about Korea and spent a total of 7-years travelling about the Korean peninsula, I was very special to have a 3-hour conversation with this 83-year old war hero with a remarkably vivid recollection of events that happened 61-years ago. On 25 Jun 50 when the Korean War broke out he had a TS communications job working in the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo with 13 Generals and Admirals who were General MacArthur's staff officers. One week later on 2 Jul 50 he was with the 34th Regiment/24th Inf Div arriving in Korea to be one of the first US units to engage the North Korean troops. The Generals briefed his unit, "once NK troops see American troops arriving to defend Korea, the NK troops will turn around and return to NK." Afterall the US had just defeated two superpowers at once by winning WWII against Japan and Germany 5-years prior so no one thought Kim Il Sung and NK would actually take on the US military. Sadly, those Generals were mistaken. We now know that Kim Il Sung had the backing of Russian weapons, tanks, aircraft, advisors and the infinite numbers of Chinese troops to help NK. So SSG John Baker's 34th Regt was 18 miles south of the infamous Task Force Smith when the US made initial contact with NK troops. His unit had limited ammo for their rifles and no other weaponry to speak of. They were provided one inoperable machine gun that was missing a firing pin and had no ammo. The NK troops had 8 divisions with at least hundreds of T34 Russian tanks so the US side didn't stand a chance and were nearly all completely annihialated. I was fascinated to hear first hand accounts of how he later advanced all the way to the Yalu River on the China border then survived the Frozen Chosin of Changjinho Reservoir. He published a couple books in the 70s unrelated to the Korean War and is now finishing up 1,400 pages of his memoirs from the Korean War to be published in the near future. The medal I'm holding in this picture is one he received from the Korean government a week before I took this picture thanking Korean War Veterans for being "Ambassadors of Peace".