Our Brave Troops Still in Korea

My son-in-law, Air Force Maj. William F. Cain Jr., and I just returned from Korea. It was my first visit since I left there in late November 1950. He accompanied me to make sure I was able to move about unencumbered. You see, I was wounded and left my arm in Korea on Nov. 28, 1950, and I also suffer from heart problems.

On June 25, 1950, North Korean troops invaded South Korea. I was one of thousands of troops called upon to defend South Korea. On June 23, 1951, the Soviet delegate to the United Nations proposed a cease-fire. The combat conditions lasted until an armistice was signed by North Korea, the United Nations and Chinese armies on July 27, 1953, which concluded more than 500 major meetings spread over two years. Total American casualties were 33,629 killed and 103,284 wounded.

What most people in the United States don't seem to realize is that since 1953, there have been troops from the United States defending the line between North and South Korea. That is more than 45 years after the shooting war ended. The troops are stationed there for a year because of the austere conditions and no support structure and housing for dependents. If they bring their families, the tours of duty are two years. However, this puts the entire family and the soldiers under these same stressful conditions. Since the early 1970s, three tunnels dug by North Korea have been discovered, the latest in October 1978. It was located just 44 kilometers (approximately 28 miles) away from Seoul.

It is estimated that 30,000 armed forces with field artillery would be able to move through this tunnel per hour. This is only one of the many threats faced daily by our armed forces and the South Korean people.

During our trip, we had the opportunity to visit one of the many U.S. military facilities in Korea. We spoke to the command staff and several of the GIs. We came away with a sense of awe at the professional attitude and diplomacy each of the military personnel displayed, even in this austere and stressful environment.

The U.S. and Korean military men and women serving there stand facing their North Korean counterparts. On a daily basis, both groups of soldiers are armed and ready on a moment's notice -- ready to answer their countries' call, while hoping this will not be the day when another invasion takes place. After all, the North Korean army is over 1 million strong, and it is always waving one threat or another at the free world.

Earlier this year, the North Koreans fired a missile over Japan into the Sea of Japan. They were just testing their latest military weapon. This is another kind of stress these men and women face every hour of every day they are there. Both those who have served there in the past and the current members of the armed forces stationed there today deserve our salute and praise for a job very well done. They are responsible for keeping the longest truce between two hostile forces in the history of the world. I am proud of the manner in which they have preserved the peace for which we veterans of the Korean War fought so fard and sacrificed so many lives and limbs.

The moment-by-moment tact and diplomacy they must practice is a sacrifice that cannot be measured by us at home. We can only imagine -- but do we? How many people in the United States know anything about their sacrifice?

As we celebrate another Memorial Day here in the states, while you are out hunting for the great holiday sales and enjoying a backyard barbecue, please remember your freedom; it is being protected by these and other troops around the world, it is not free. Please remember to keep these men and women in your prayers. The Korean War has been known as the "forgotten war" for so many years, let's not forget these brave military people. We cannot allow them to be forgotten, too.

One soldier said, "We hear so much about Korea, the forgotten war. We often wonder if we are forgotten as well."

We veterans of the 23rd Regiment assured him and the rest of the men and women that they would never be forgotten by us. Will you say the same? Let us remember and honor them this Memorial Day.

JOHN A. CONNOLLY

Pfc., U.S. Army Retired

Sterling

Defusing a School Threat

What does a parent feel when their child is threatened with the possibility of being shot or bombed? Preceding the May 10 threat to Park View High School, for me as a parent, a multitude of feelings emerged, the more prevalent being anger, disbelief, anxiety, the need to protect, uneasiness, helplessness and, of course, worry.

James Person, the principal at Park View, did not take this threat lightly. He immediately delved into the matter. By the time any parent contacted the school office, Mr. Person and his staff, in conjunction with local and federal law enforcement officials, had already initiated investigations. Pro-active procedures were set in place establishing safety measures, logistics for placement of manpower inside the school perimeter on May 10, organizing a plan of action should something happen and methods to reassure the community and calm possible hysteria.

They also set up meetings for concerned parents to be briefed on everything being done, as well as gave parents the opportunity to be at the school on a volunteer basis.

Between 45 and 50 people came to help on May 10. In addition to parents and/or family member volunteers, there were at least six law enforcement officials: two federal and four county officers, four in uniform, two in plain clothes. This provided enough manpower to cover every strategic point in the school. Monitors were posted in hallways and stairwells, outside restrooms, at fire alarms, entranceways and exits, in the parking lots, and many walked the school perimeter. My uneasiness disappeared as soon as I saw how many people were there, and I'm very proud to have been a part of the team.

PVHS staff and faculty were extremely helpful and cooperative. Although such a large number of visitors were present, this didn't disrupt the classroom routine; the standard of learning was met. The high visibility of law enforcement officials, various agencies working together, gave no false sense of security; instead there was confidence in knowing any situation would be handled correctly.

The day passed without incident. Afterward, I asked Ellen French her opinion of how she felt the situation was handled. She said, "I was very impressed. Everyone worked great together and the safety plans were well done." She also stated it's very reassuring to have a county sheriff's deputy assigned to PVHS full time. Many parent volunteers expressed the desire to begin regularly scheduled parent-student days. One father stated that he feels, even if jobs are hectic, all parents need to be more pro-active in their children's lives, including watching their after-school activities.

My daughter, Heidi, a PVHS junior, commented: "Every corner we turned or hall we walked down, there were either parents, teachers or police officers. I felt very safe."

My son, Randy, a PVHS freshman, said, "Having so many people in school was weird, but I'm glad they were there."

I would like to take the opportunity to thank Mr. Person, Park View faculty and staff, the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office, the federal officers and their departments, and all the volunteers for their efforts.

To sum it up, Randy Mihacsi, of the Federal Protective Service, stated: "This was a coming together of the community. Everyone worked well together striving for a common goal, to make a safe and secure learning environment for our children."

I totally agree.

BETTY HOLLAND

Sterling

A Candidate's Full Meaning

In Liz Seymour's article, "School Board Candidates Quizzed," on May 20, I was quoted as saying, "I am pro-choice. I have no problem with them," concerning school vouchers. I believe my actual words were: "When it comes to education, I am pro-choice. I have no problem with them." The "them" I was referring to was education tax credits as well as school vouchers. To alleviate overcrowding, improve teacher compensation and improve educational excellence in a school system that is growing 10 percent per year, all viable alternatives must be considered.

TOM REED

At-Large Candidate

For the Loudoun School Board

Leesburg

Myers Is No Team Player

It did not surprise me in the slightest to hear Dale Polen Myers will run as an independent for the Board of Supervisors chairman's seat this fall because her party (for now) did not support her in the May 22 primary ["Myers Plans New Run as Independent," May 27].

Maybe she should take note rather than take offense. Ms. Myers should "grow" up and learn from the graciousness of Richard L. Roberts, the winner in the Catoctin District supervisor race (Congratulations, Rick!) and who also lost to Ms. Myers four years ago in the last Loudoun GOP primary. Rick remained a team player and lived to run again for his party rather than for self.

FRED HILL

Purcellville

Take Down That Wall!

Take down that wall, Gov. Gilmore!

Take down that wall, Charlie Waddle!

Take down that wall, VDOT!

Somebody take down that wall!

I'm talking about all those walls being built around us -- particularly at Route 7 and the Algonkian Parkway. The question is, who's doing this to us? VDOT, I guess, but who's not paying attention and allowing this gross anti-beautification to happen? Per usual, all our county supervisors weren't paying attention. Nor were any of our reps in Richmond.

Here we live, now being enveloped by brown and gray concrete sound walls. The Algonkian entrance to Cascades was once lovely and restful. But with the new giant, cold wall, it now has taken on a surrealistic appearance -- like an entrance to some forbidding place. I've seen "walled communities," but never quite like this.

And the rumors that have come with it -- that VDOT's plan is to turn Algonkian into even more of a speedway than it already is by taking more traffic off Route 7? Eastern Loudoun is being overwhelmed with commercial construction, traffic and now walls. It's just more clear that our county board has never met a developer it didn't like. And it just gets worse.

Let's get some people in office who represent the largest and fastest-growing county in Virginia. Our county board has too many provincial folks who just don't have our interests in mind.

And our biggest problem in Cascades remains ourselves, with our apathy. I want you all to open your windows and shout, "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore!"

JAMES LEAVENGOOD

Sterling

Myers Still Doesn't Get It

Dale Polen Myers was soundly defeated (can you say landslide) in the Republican primary in the race for chairman of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors. Scott K. York garnered over 73 percent of the vote, including an almost 2 to 1 margin in Myers's own district. The people have spoken, but Myers just doesn't get it. Myers claimed that many of the 6,100 people who voted in the primary were Democrats who crossed the party line to vote. She claims all were swayed by sound bites of promises of smart growth. She believes we are all mindless drones who are not intelligent enough to evaluate the wide variety of information available beyond sound bites to make our own decisions. Now a sore loser, she wants to run as an independent.

Myers continues to thumb her nose at the citizens of Loudoun County even though the message from the election results was clear. I passed out literature at the polls on primary day and heard repeatedly from many that a vote for York was not only for a fresh approach for smart growth and quality-of-life issues but also a vote against Myers's continued arrogance toward the citizens of Loudoun County. People also voted against Myers because of concern about the large amount of campaign contributions coming in from developer groups outside Loudoun County. In fact, this trend continued up until the eve of the primary, when Myers submitted in the last permitted hours a required list of contributions over $500, including $2,500 from the Metro Virginia PAC, a Washington-based political action committee for apartment and condominium developers. The $2,500 contribution brought the total to $4,750 that the Myers's reelection campaign received from that group. Most people who voted were probably not aware of that "sound bite".

I wonder if Myers will honor her signed pledge to support the Republican nominee, Scott York, in the fall. Perhaps some of those people supposedly videotaping voters at the primary will be back to assure us that she will. Myers is in complete denial and should bow out gracefully.

PATTY SNOW

Leesburg

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