On July 9 visitors to the Elsberry Nutrition Center were treated to a first-hand account of the Korean War courtesy of John Hood, 84, an Eolia farmer who was drafted in 1951 and experienced some of the most intense fighting imaginable prior to returning home.
The war began on June 25, 1950 when approximately 75,000 North Korean soldiers crossed in mass over the 38th parallel, the division between North and South Korea that had been established during the waning hours of WWII in negotiations between the United States and the Soviet Union over how Japanese-occupied Korea would be administered after Japan’s surrender.
By all accounts, the people of Korea had lived in unity and relative peace with one another for as long as anyone can remember and the division between North and South at the end of the war was largely unnecessary.
Had it not been for the need to pacify the Soviet Union from a military standpoint the 38th parallel would probably never have existed.
In fact, the division was at first described as “temporary”.
Sadly, efforts to reunite North and South Korea failed several times in the years following WWII and by 1948 the two existed as completely independent states.
When North Korea invaded South Korea in 1950, its leader Kim ll Sung declared that “the war which we are forced to wage is a just war for the unification and independence of the motherland and for freedom and democracy.”
The United States disagreed, choosing instead to view the act as one of communist aggression.
By July of 1950 America had committed troops to the conflict on behalf of the South Koreans.
Between the time of the war’s outbreak and the cease-fire in 1953 over 1.5 million American men were drafted into the cause by the Selective Service.
Born in 1930, Hood was 21 years old when he received his draft notice.
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