A day to remember: National POW/MIA Recognition Day, 72nd anniversary of the Inchon Landing

by WorldTribune Staff, September 16, 2022

Editor’s Note: Sept. 16 is National POW/MIA Recognition Day, a day to remember and honor the prisoners of war and missing in action service members from all wars. Sept. 15 was the 72 anniversary of the historic Inchon Landing by U.S. forces under Gen. Douglas MacArthur which successfully reversed the momentum of invading North Korean Forces in the Korean War.

There are more than 82,000 Americans who are listed as still missing in action since World War II, including:

• World War II – 72,823
• Korean War – 7,556 (about 5,300 Americans are missing in North Korea)
• Vietnam War – 1,594
• Cold War – 126
• Gulf Wars – 5

[The following is from a Facebook post by Susan Kee honoring Korean War Veterans. Over 36,000 Americans were killed and over 8,100 Americans became Missing in Action during the Korean War.]


This is one of the most striking pictures of the Korean War taken on August 2, 1950, when U.S. Marines first arrived in Pusan(Busan), South Korea. Most war photos show the backside of those fighting in the war and we usually don’t see their faces. This is an unusual and special photo where we can see their faces, up close. The expressions on their faces show the uncertainty and anxiety they felt.

Members of the 1st Marine Division on arrival in Pusan, Korea, Aug. 2, 1950. / Photo by David Douglas Duncan

Most of them were very young. They were about 17 to 19 years old. These Marines of the U.S. Marine Corps’ 1st Marine Division came from Camp Pendleton in San Diego, California. They boarded troopships from San Diego and their voyage took about 2 weeks by sea to get to Japan, and then arrived shortly after, in Korea.

I asked Korean War veterans, “how did you feel as you were headed to war?” All of the Korean War veterans say that they were scared. In fact, they say, “if any veteran tells you, he was not scared, he is lying!”

In this photo, every Marine looks nervous, uncertain or scared. Many veterans told me their first battle was the scariest, because they had never experienced combat before and didn’t know what it would be like. But one thing they all knew, was that they could die at any moment. No matter how scared they were, they found the strength and determination to fight and stay alive.

It is true what they say about courage. “Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it ”

In the several months after they arrived in Korea, these young Marines of the 1st Marine Division fought in some of the most horrific battles of the Korean War – Pusan Perimeter near Nakdong River, Pohang (8/1950), Inchon Landing (9/15/1950), Gimpo airfield, Han River, Battle of Seoul(9/28/1950), and into the freezing mountains of Chosin (Jangin) Reservoir battles (11 – 12/1950) and the Spring Offensive battles (Spring 1951).

As I look at this photo, I know that many of these young Marines were killed in Korea and never saw their families again. Their families were forever shattered by the painful loss of their son, brother, father, or husband.

As a Korean American, my heart breaks, as I think of the tremendous sacrifices made for South Korea, by so many young Americans. Over 36,000 Americans were killed in action and over 8,000 Americans became missing in action during the 3-year war.

They fought and died trying to save not their own country, but another. These Americans answered the call to defend a country they never knew and a people they never met. I believe this is the greatness of Americans. Throughout its history, Americans have fought and died in foreign lands, to defend the freedom of other people. South Korea is one of these countries, saved by brave Americans.

South Korea is a prosperous and free nation today, because of the courage of all who fought and saved South Korea, during the Korean War.

These courageous young men gave the most precious gift of freedom to millions of Koreans, like me. I thank God every day for these brave Americans who gave me the life of freedoms, I cherish.

Thus, as a Korean American, I am devoted to do all I can to make sure these heroes are never forgotten and that we, as Koreans, will always remember them and honor them. It is also my sincere hope that South Korea will never forget its greatest heroes.

May God always bless the Gold Star families of all who gave their lives in the Korean War and our Korean War veterans across America.

We, Koreans, are forever grateful for their courage and sacrifices.

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