Korean Consul General was special guest at event co-hosted by Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation and the Channel City Club
(Back row from left to right): Brig. Gen. Fred Lopez; Lt. John Blankenship, USN (Fmr); Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown; Capt. Joe Danely; Col. Phil Conran. (Front row from left to right): Local Korean War veteran honorees – Lt. Col. Jack Harris, USMC; Sgt. John Suzuki, Army; PFC Frank Heintz, Army; PFC Margarito Delgadillo, Army; Maj. Gen. Phil Conley, USAF. Photo by Monie Photography.
Five local veterans of the Korean War were honored on May 9 at a luncheon and symposium, The Forgotten War: Korea 66 Years On, co-hosted by Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation (PCVF) and the Channel City Club at the Fess Parker a DoubleTree Resort by Hilton.
While the Korean War is often overshadowed in history lessons by World War II and Vietnam, guests were reminded that the conflict triggered profound change both at home and abroad.
During the event, special guest Korean Consul General Lee Key-cheol thanked the veterans for their service and honored all Korean veterans in attendance with the Ambassador for Peace Medal.
Lee said South Korea would not have evolved into the democracy it is today without the efforts of those who served. He expressed remorse that so many have forgotten the war’s significance.
“It is not fair to forget the sacrifice of young American soldiers who fought for freedom and democracy in Korea,” Lee told the audience of nearly 300 people. “If you forget the past, you have no future.”
Following a welcome from Channel City Club Vice President Brian Robertson and Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation Co-Founder Lt. John Blankenship, USN (Fmr) and singings of both the U.S. and Korean national anthems, guests at the event were captivated by movie clips about the Korean War.
Five presenters provided information on the history of the Korean War, which lasted from 1950 – 1953, but technically never ended as a peace treaty was not signed, only an armistice.
Lt. Blankenship, Brig. Gen. Fred Lopez, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown, Col. Phil Conran, and Capt. Joe Danely highlighted the cultural climate of the U.S. during the war as well as turning points in the military.
The audience – which included the entire class of the Anacapa School – learned that aviation played a significant role in military operations during the Korean War. Additionally, it was the first U.S. war in which the armed forces were racially integrated. The war was also characterized by severe mistreatment of prisoners of war by Communist China and North Korea.
Following the historical accounts, each of the speakers introduced one of the five local Korean War veteran honorees. Lt. Col. Jack Harris, USMC; Maj. Gen. Phil Conley, USAF; PFC Frank Heintz, Army; Sgt. John Suzuki, Army; and PFC Margarito Delgadillo, Army; each received standing ovations after their stories of service were shared with the audience.
The five honorees were also presented with certificates of honor from Wendy Motta of the Office of Congresswoman Lois Capps, Cameron Schunk from the Office of Assemblyman Das Williams, Santa Barbara County Supervisor Salud Carbajal and Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider.
For information on upcoming veteran events in Santa Barbara or to support events such as this one that help ensure the men and women who have served in U.S. military efforts are never forgotten, visit www.pcvf.org.
About Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation
Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation is committed to honoring the men and women who have served in U.S. military efforts. PCVF does this by supporting veterans and active duty members in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties as well as preserving military history and legacy. The Foundation is developing a Veterans Museum in downtown Santa Barbara as well as the “Wings of Honor” public art piece at the Santa Barbara Airport, both of which uphold Pierre Claeyssen’s vision that those who have served are “Never Forgotten.” PCVF is funded entirely by private donations. For more information, visit www.pcvf.org or call (805) 259-4394.