About 120 from the Mahoning Valley died in the Korean War, the head of a veterans group said.
By WILLIAM K. ALCORN
AUSTINTOWN -- Mahoning Valley Korean War Veterans Chapter 137 plans to break ground for a Korean War veterans memorial at Austintown Township Memorial Park within a year.
"We want to honor the thousands who died in Korea and to remind people about the so-called 'forgotten war.' We can't let people forget," said Zeno Foley, president of the Korean War Veterans Association of Mahoning Valley.
War deaths: Nearly 37,000 Americans died in the Korean Theater between June 25, 1950 and July 27, 1953, including more than 33,000 from combat wounds. Also, more than 8,000 are missing in action. The Mahoning Valley's death toll was about 120, Foley said.
"We hope to have enough money raised by June 25, 2002 to break ground for the memorial," he said. June 25 is the anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War. The cease-fire was effective July 27, 1953.
Foley said Chapter 137 members will be contacting individuals, businesses and veterans and service organizations to raise the estimated $120,000 needed to build the memorial. Also, they plan to sell memorial bricks to be incorporated into it.
"We're going to need all the support we can get," Foley said. Anyone who wants to contribute can send a check or money order to Korean War Veterans Memorial Fund in care of any Farmers National Bank office.
Poland artist Tom Antonishak designed the memorial and has been commissioned to create a bronze sculpture of a life-size Korean War soldier, wearing a poncho and carrying a rifle, which will be its centerpiece.
Behind the soldier will be a four-foot-high curved stone wall inscribed with the words "Freedom is not Free" on the top, "Korea" in the middle, and "The Forgotten War" on the bottom.
It also will include a plaque with the names of Mahoning Valley residents missing in action. The memorial will be about 20 feet by 30 feet, said Robert Vitullo, chairman of the site selection committee.
Mahoning Valley names: The names of Mahoning Valley residents killed in Korea from the beginning of the war to the cease-fire will be inscribed on plaques on wings extending from either side of the main wall.
"I think Korean War veterans will be very proud of the memorial," Foley said.
A model of the memorial, made by Korean War veteran Allan Jenkins of Warren, will be on display at the military tent at the Canfield Fair, Foley said.
Korean War Veterans Association of Mahoning Valley Chapter 137 was organized in 1996 and now has 134 members from Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties.
They began working on the memorial idea two or three years ago and Vitullo and his committee considered a number of potential sites including near the new Federal Building in downtown Youngstown. Recently, they went to Austintown trustees and received permission Aug. 13 to place the memorial in Austintown Township Memorial Park at Wickliffe Center off Mahoning Avenue.
"It's long overdue," said Jenkins. "Some of us who survived finally have the answer to 'why me.' It was so we could not let our comrades be forgotten," he said.