Elgin Service Marks 60th Anniversaryof the Korean War
They fought in campaigns called Pork Chop Hill, Bloody Ridge and the Naktong Breakout. The hostilities began 60 years ago this June and dragged on for over three years.
Before the Korean War was over, there were more than 36,000 "in-theater" deaths, including more than 1,700 from Illinois and 32 from Kane County, according to information supplied by the Kane County Veteran's Assistance Commission.
Sometimes called the "Forgotten War" -- because it was overshadowed by the enormity of World War II and the Vietnam War -- the conflict will be anything but this Memorial Day as the city of Elgin pays tribute to those from the area who fought and died in this struggle.
History books show the Korean War got its start on June 25, 1950 when Kim II Sung, leader of North Korea, launched a massive invasion of its neighbor South Korea. The area had been in turmoil since the end of World War II when Korea was divided into two countries -- a northern Communist country and a non-Communist neighbor.
The aggression was denounced by President Truman who pledged U.S. support for the invaded country. The newly formed United Nations soon agreed upon a multination force -- to be led by the United States -- to come to the aid of South Korea.
Nationwide, reserve officers were soon called up and draft calls issued to eligible men. The first draft call in Kane County asked for 120 men. Additional notices requiring even more men soon followed.
The fighting in the beginning was brutal as campaigns such as the Pusan Perimeter, Chosin Reservoir and Kuni-Ri claimed more than 6000 lives.
One of the first from the area to die was U.S. Army Pvt. Dale Brooks of Elgin who was killed on July 25, 1950, one month after the war began.
By year's end, more than 10 Kane County residents were killed, according to information supplied by John Carr of the Kane Co. Veterans
Assistance Commission. The intensity of the fighting soon led to the call up of National Guard units and Elgin was no exception.
In February 1952, the 66 men of Company C Illinois National Guard were "Federalized" or called into action by the president. One was Don Sleeman, then a 21-year-old member of the group, who will be the speaker during today's Memorial Day program.
As it would turn out, some would be sent to Korea and others to Japan and Germany. Standing on the fantail of the troop ship going out of San Francisco, Sleeman said he thought to himself, "This is the first time that the U. …