MARGARET DOWNING, PHOTO – The Journal. From left, Korean War Veteran Howard Ballard of Rockford, Betty Doran of Loves Park, and Stan and Donna Mattison of Rockford caught up on some current news at Hoffman House Dec. 17.

By Margaret Downing, REPORTER

 Approximately 65 Korean War Veterans and spouses attended the Korean War Veterans Association annual Christmas banquet held at Hoffman House in Rockford on Dec. 17. It may have been a cold and snowy day, but everyone seemed in good spirits; happy to meet with long time friends and fellow Veterans.

According to friend, KWVA Vice Commander Bill Doran of Loves Park, Korean War Veteran Charlie Gebhardt of Belvidere, was a recipient of the Army’s Distinguished Service Cross Medal for action he saw during the Chosin Reservoir Battle in North Korea from Nov. 26 to Dec. 11, 1950. Gebhardt, a friendly, observant man, was making the rounds welcoming attendees.

Due to lack of proper equipment and clothing, Americans saw many casualties of frostbite and lives lost during the invasion by about 200,000 Chinese at Chosin. Marines, along with United Nations and Army troops, were involved in the Battle. A total of 836 Marines lost their lives, approximately 12,000 troops were wounded or suffered from frostbite, about 2,000 Army troops were killed, and around 1,000 Army servicemen were listed as wounded. An estimated 35,000 Chinese were killed. Veterans of the Chosin Reservoir Battle were evacuated from Hungnam as part of a large amphibious operation to rescue UN troops from northern Korea.

As of 2013, about 2,275,000 Veterans of the Korean War Conflict were still living. Serving as active personnel during the war (1950-1953) were 5.7 million servicemen and women. A total of 54, 246 died and 103,284 were listed as wounded. It is estimated by the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs that approximately 5,000 soldiers died in Korea from the extreme cold. Today, a number of living Veterans still suffer from the effects of frostbite.

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