Korean War Veterans to Be Honored at Barnegat Light Coast Guard Station

Ceremony Scheduled for April 28
Apr 03, 2013

Some wars, and, therefore, some veterans, just don’t get the credit they deserve.

It has been a busy couple of years for Civil War re-enactors, what with 2013 being smack in the middle of the sesquicentennial celebration of that war. But when was the last time you heard about a re-enactment of a battle from the War of 1812? Yet we are smack in the middle (the war’s name is a misnomer considering it ran until 1815) of the bicentennial of that war, and usually bicentennials are big deals, as anyone who was alive in 1976 remembers.

The Korean War, too, tends to be overlooked, coming, as it did, so soon after WWII, only to be shortly followed by the Vietnam War. In fact, it is often referred to as the “Forgotten War,” which is sort of insulting to the American men who fought it considering that 33,686 died as a result of combat there, along with 2,830 non-combat deaths and 8,176 officially declared missing in action.

The National Exercise Tiger Commemorative Foundation and U.S. Coast Guard Station Barnegat Light haven’t forgotten about Korean vets. They are actively searching for them so they can be honored at a special ceremony to be held at Station Barnegat Light at 11 a.m. on Sunday, April 28.

Korean War veterans in attendance will receive a Department of Defense KW60th anniversary certificate. Those who were “engaged in a battle with an enemy of the United States during ... military service in a combat zone” will also receive the Exercise Tiger Foundation’s Medal of Combat Valor.

Korean War veterans who plan on attending must act quickly if they want their certificates personalized. They should be prepared to give the correct spelling of their names, along with the military service branch for which they served, and call Susan Haines, executive director of the United States Exercise Tiger Commemorative Foundation at 877-WW2-TIGR (877-992-8447), or her assistant, Sally Sterr, at 609-290-8353. Vets can also email Haines at susanhaines@exercisetiger.org or shane@socket.net. Another option is to reach Chief Warrant Officer Jay Greiner, commanding officer of Coast Guard Station Barnegat Light, at Jay.O.Greiner@uscg.mil. Whatever method of contact is used, it is essential such contact be made by April 12.

It is fitting that the National Exercise Tiger Commemorative Foundation and the Coast Guard should honor Korean War veterans. After all, as it says on the foundation’s website, “a forgotten battle honors a forgotten war.”

Early in the morning of April 28, 1944, eight tank landing ships (LST) and one escort, the British corvette HMS Azalea, were on route to an English beach, Slapton Sands, to rehearse landings for the upcoming D-Day invasion. Nine German torpedo boats were waiting for them, hidden in the darkness. In the battle that followed, two of the LSTs were sunk and another was crippled. About 4,000 sailors and troops took part in the top secret practice run. Seven hundred and forty-nine were killed. In order not to tip the Germans to the Allied plans, casualty information from the battle was not released until after D-Day, in fact long after, on Aug. 5, 1944. No wonder Operation Tiger is a forgotten battle!

What did the Coast Guard have to do with it? Many of the coxswains of landing craft in the D-Day invasion were Coast Guardsmen (after all, they were experienced in handling small craft). That’s another forgotten fact, and further proof that many wars, and many veterans, don’t get the respect they deserve, a situation the Exercise Tiger Foundation and Coast Guard Station Barnegat Light are trying to correct.  —R.M.

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