Emotions filled the room as a Korean Ambassador of Peace Medal was presented to Richfield resident Wayland Crane Monday afternoon.
“I want to dedicate this to the 38th,” Crane said, choking back tears. “Dedicate it to the those who didn’t make it back.”
Crane said he still remembers the war, including the sight of injured soldiers crying for their mothers. Crane served with the 38th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division during the war.
Crane also received anniversary medals issued in commemoration of the 50th and 60th anniversaries of the Korean War.
“There is a rich history of southern Utah and Korea,” said Sunny Lee, a volunteer who was born in Korea during the Korean War. Lee said that her entire life she was told stories about the things the United States military did to preserve freedom in South Korea. Southern Utah provided some 600 soldiers to the war effort.
One incident soldiers from southern Utah were involved with was known as the Miracle at Kapyong, wherein the 240 men of the 213th found themselves being advanced on by some 4,000 Chinese soldiers.
The group fought off the advancing troops without losing any of its own, killing approximately 500 enemy troops and capturing another 800.
No one was killed out of the original 600 southern Utah troops who were part of the 213th, who were eventually rotated out of Korea and replaced by other military personnel.
The 213th eventually became the Utah National Guard 2nd Battalion 222nd Field Artillery, commonly known as the Triple Deuce.
However, not every unit was as blessed as the 213th, Lee said.
“There are over 8,000 MIA soldiers whose families still need closure,” Lee said. “We want to do something to pay back the United States. When our country called, they answered … if not for them, I would not be here.”
Lee said South Korea stands as a strong, thriving and modern country thanks to the U.S. military’s role in the war.
“God bless you, and God bless this country,” Lee said.
Crane’s ties to the Korean War and the military are still shaping local history.
“He is a big part of why I wear this uniform,” said Lt. Col. Cody Workman, commanding officer of the 222nd. He said his grandfather’s example was part of the reason he decided to join the 222nd as a teenager.
“It’s often called the forgotten war,” Workman said of the Korean conflict. He said while a lot of attention is paid to World War II and Vietnam, many times people don’t study the Korean War.
Accompanying Lee for the presentation were four Korean Army Cadets from the Korea Army Academy at Yeongcheon.
“These veterans were not just soldiers,” said Cadet Jan Gyn Park. “They were our family, our friends, our loved ones.”
Park and the other cadets gave Crane a salute and presented him with a coin from their school.
“Thank you for your service and your sacrifice,” Park said.
Park said his contingent was selected for the trip to the United States by the KAAY.
“They wanted students who spoke English,” Park said. “We’re just lucky to be here.”
The presentations were made during the Richfield Rotary Club International meeting.