Honoring our Korean War veterans

The Korean War started 67 years ago today when troops from North Korea crossed the 38th parallel and invaded what was then known as the Republic of Korea (now South Korea). More than 36,000 American troops died in the war, with another 100,000-plus wounded in action.

The Korean War is known by many as the forgotten war, but we will never forget. On this day, we remember and honor all of our veterans who served during the Korean War.

Last year, all of us at Honor Flight Chicago were ecstatic to begin flying Korean War veterans — along with World War II veterans — to Washington, D.C. for a day of honor and recognition. To date, 851 of the 7,000-plus veterans we’ve honored were Korean War veterans, and the vast majority of the approximately 2,000 veterans on our waitlist served during the Korean War.

We are so proud to honor each and every one of our veterans, but with our Korean War vets, there is an added satisfaction when we say ‘thank you.’ Many of these veterans returned to no fanfare. No recognition. No thank you.

We see it as our responsibility to give them the thank you they deserve.

I have countless stories of Korean War veterans who were moved by the trip to D.C., particularly the emotional visit to the Korean War Memorial. One of the quotes that always stays with me, though, came from Army Corporal Wayne Uecker, who served from 1952-1954.

“When we came home there was no celebration,” Uecker said. “We just melted back into society as best we could. It was so thoughtful of you and your volunteer patriots to provide us with our coming home celebration.

“It is very heart-warming and uplifting to know that good people like you exist.”

On this day, as we commemorate the start of the Korean War, consider honoring a Korean War veteran by making a donation to Honor Flight Chicago and help us continue to give these men and women the thanks they deserve.



Mary PettinatoCEO, Co-Founder and Janitor
Mary Pettinato is the proud daughter of a WWII veteran. Recognized as one of Chicago Tribune’s 2015 Remarkable Women, Mary’s volunteer efforts have ranged from serving those who have sacrificed much to defend our country, to lending her insights and energy to a number of volunteer boards in the Chicago community. Mary was recently appointed to the board of the national Honor Flight Network.