The Korean War Project

Among the most dedicated, selfless, and important projects I have encountered in the last few years is the Korean War Project.

It is the work of Ted Barker, the son of a soldier who fought in Korea.

I have yet to see a word out of place — or a thought unexpressed — as Mr. Barker has demonstrated by each and every post his dedication to honoring those who fought with his father in Korea.

I first became aware of this site a few years back. I was at the Bat Mitzvah of a family member when, sitting at a table, I struck up a conversation with the gentlemen sitting near me.

His name was Lou Colangelo. I learned that he had gone ashore as a soldier in the U.S. Army in late 1942 in North Africa, and had been engaged in combat almost continuously until April 1945. Among his last actions was the crossing of a lake in Austria, near the Italian border, using a DKW amphibious craft. He was commended in battle for his heroism by William Orlando Darby, founder of Darby’s Rangers, the forerunner of the US Army Rangers, one of America’s greatest fighting forces. Col. Darby was killed within an hour by an artillery shell. He was the only officer to be posthumously promoted to General in WWII.

Mr. Coangelo informed me that one of his cousins had been among the first American soldiers to die in Korea, in theBattle of the Pusan Perimeter.

I first encountered the Korean War Project via a web search, and entered the name of Mr. Colangelo’s cousin in an entry on the site.

I was born in early December of 1944, and so played no role in the fighting of WWII. Because of my age, and my interest in that war, I was witness to the way in which the media, notably in the form of movies, decided to honor those who did fight in that war.

For example, among my earliest memories is the movie The Steel Helmet. Released in 1951, I saw it before I was seven years old. Looking back, I see it was an anti-war movie in a profound sense, as it captured both the dedication — and the insanity — of soldiers drawn into battle by a cause for which they were willing to give their lives.

The director of the movie, as I learned decades later, was Samuel Fuller, who was the director of the movie The Big Red One, about the First Infantry Division. Starring Lee Marvin in his finest role, the film continues the random nature of war first described by Fuller two decades earlier in “The Steel Helmet.”

The Korean War was perhaps the most unusual of America’s wars. We engaged in it almost by chance, since the Russians chose to sit out the key meeting of the United Nations at which Pres. Harry Truman offered the assistance of our armed forces in defending Korea.

Though unusual in its origin, the Korean War resulted in much of the finest fighting ever done to defend our country, notably in the battles around the Chosin Reservoir. Though I consider David Halberstam to be the finest writer of his generation, I deem the accounts of the fighting given in the work of James Brady, one-time editor of Women’s Wear Daily, to be superior.

The Korean War as fought not only by Americans but by Koreans who were equally willing to go into harm’s way to defend their country.

They differ from us not in their courage but by their modesty. For example, for well over a decade I have had the pleasure of watching an elderly Korean couple, the parents of a fellow employee at IBM Research, walk every day to take their exercise. I learned only recently that the father was once a senior academic in a major Korean University, yet I know him only as a person who has *always* taken the time to share a welcoming thought and wish me and my family a happy day.

Would that are allies were always so gracious, courageous, and kind.

It thus comes as no surprise that perhaps the most courageous person I have never met was also Korean.

That would be SSgt. Kyu Hyuk Chae, the subject of many — yet too few — posts in this blog. His example of integrity and courage is so great that I find it hard to write about him without shedding a tear — as I have just done while writing this post — in his memory.

In conclusion, I ask that my fellow open-source developers extend whatever help they can muster to assist Mr. Barker in his noble mission.


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