Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America

Korean War Veterans

by PNC Ainslee Ferdie, Chairman, Korean Commemorative Committee

The Jewish War Veterans are committed to remembering the Forgotten War- The Korean War. At the South Korean Embassy, on July 26, 1999, with then National Commander Michael Berman and NED Col. Herb Rosenbleeth, PDC Martin Greenberg, Co-Chairman, I met with Major General Hwang, the Military Attache and his aide, Lt. Colonel Yung to offer and seek cooperation.

The following day we all participated at the Korean War Memorial wreath presentation. That afternoon, Co-Chairman PNC Ed Goldwasser, PDC Greenberg and myself attended ceremonies at the Tomb of the Unknown, and afterward at the Korean Memorial Bench in Arlington.

The committee also met in Las Vegas and has initiated a slogan contest in which you are each invited to participate, in the hope that it will spur a substantial increase in Korean Veteran membership in our great organization as well as inspiring a series of commemorative activities. One such slogan is that which was submitted by Norman R. Schwartz, Senior Vice Commander of Post 122, Columbus Ohio: "The Forgotten War Remembered." We encourage further participation by our membership.

We are also gathering narratives on both non-combat and combat experiences in Korea. We hope that others will follow the example of Dr. Warren Zundell, PPC, Post 254, Department of Florida Surgeon, and send in their stories. The following is his submission (edited for space constraints):

"ROSH HASHANAH AND YOM KIPPUR IN NORTH KOREA, 1951. Remembered by Warren Zundell, MD (Captain, 11th Evacuation Hospital SMBL, 10th Corp. 8th Army, Korea)

These evenings occurred years ago, but every Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, they return as vividly as if they happened last year.

In May, 1951, my hospital unit was transported from Sasebo, Japan to Pusan, Korea. I was on the Orthopedic Surgery Team. Five months later, on the day before Rosh Hashanah, our hospital Chaplain (a Catholic priest), asked me if I was planning to attend services the next day, being conducted some 40 or 50 miles north of our location, just over the 36th parallel, in North Korea. We were in Wonju, South Korea.

I knew the Rabbi who was to conduct the services, as he would visit our hospital from time to time. Knowing this would be a 40 or 50 mile trek through sniper-infested mountains, I answered negatively, even though I knew that the Rabbi might be disappointed.

The following conversation then ensued:

Chaplain: You have to go.

Me: Why do I have to go?

Chaplain: There are about 30 Jewish boys around here who want to go.

Me: So let them go.

Chaplain: An Officer has to go to be in charge of the convoy.

Me: Why me? I am a Doctor.

Chaplain: You are the only Jewish Officer in this hospital, so you go.

He was a Major, I was a Captain. I think he was giving me a direct order. He then informed me that he would lend me his jeep in which to head the convoy of trucks. It had a big white cross on the front hood, which he implied would protect us from sniper fire. He didn’t say anything about land mines. That afternoon we assembled the convoy and headed North. It may have been the first all-Jewish convoy in the history of Korea. As Jews, we were not fully convinced that the white cross would totally protect us from sniper fire. We were therefore well-armed.

A few uneventful hours later we crossed the 38th parallel into North Korea. We were making Jewish history.

Soon we checked into 10th Corp. HW. The Rabbi (Major Meir Engle) seemed happy to se us.

The next day was Rosh Hashanah. We had a big tent in which to hold services. There were about 300 Jewish boys attending, including my 30. I was proud to be there. After services we reassembled our convoy and returned to our hospital, without incident.

When Yom Kippur came, I was called upon by the Chaplain again. I didn’t want to push my luck, with a baby daughter back home whom I had never seen. Nevertheless, I soon found myself in the same Jewish convoy. But between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, there had been heavy fighting on the 10th Corp. Front.

Instead of 300 Jewish boys attending Yom Kippur services, there were less than 150.

Korea is now referred to as the "Forgotten War". What it really means is that this country has literally forgotten the more than 34,000 Americans who died there, including those Jewish boys who died between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur in the year 1951."

We look for each of you to submit slogans, experiences and suggestions. With your participation not only will we not forget, but everyone else will remember the Korean War.