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submitted by Mark Williams, Edwin James’ son-in-law, on behalf of the James family
Veteran’s Day will be observed this coming Monday, November 11th and it is an opportunity to thank those men and women who have served in the armed forces, especially during time of conflict. Often overlooked are the ones who served during the Korean War, sometimes called the Forgotten War. Many from this area of Wisconsin served in that war and most are now in their eighties. We want to thank them, as well as all veterans, for their sacrificial service.
One Korean veteran from our area, Edwin James, took pride in having served his country in the United States Army—but he wouldn’t talk very much about his experiences as a soldier stationed in Korea. It wasn’t until his later years that he opened up a little bit more and his family began to find out about a night skirmish he had been involved in on a hill named Outpost Pork Chop. The family was used to seeing a bronze star displayed in a little case in the house, but the significance of that battle on Pork Chop hill was not fully comprehended. Finally, in the past few years, there were times when Edwin would speak more openly about what transpired that night, but it wasn’t until after his death that the family discovered the significance of that battle; the significance of the “V” device on Edwin’s Bronze Star; and the significance of the Fox Company, 32nd Infantry, in which Edwin served. A little research uncovered the fact that this battle for Outpost Pork Chop was the deadliest battle of the Korean conflict and Company F of the 32nd Infantry was all but decimated in the fighting on the night in 1953. According to the commendation issued when the Bronze Star was awarded, “Sergeant EDWIN M. JAMES, US55231235 (then Corporal), Infantry, United States Army, a member of Company F, 32d Infantry, distinguished himself by heroic achievement near Karahwa-Gol, Korea. On 8 July 1953, Sergeant JAMES exhibited great courage during a fire fight with a stubborn enemy. When his unit was being fired upon by an enemy machine gun which was blocking their advancement, Sergeant JAMES, with complete disregard for his own personal safety, moved forward firing his weapon and throwing grenades. The accurate and devastating fire that Sergeant JAMES placed upon the enemy position completely neutralized it and permitted his unit to move forward and continue in the assault. The heroic action of Sergeant JAMES reflects great credit on himself and the military service.”
When Edwin first began opening up to his family about that battle, he shared the story of his armor bearer, Pvt Howard Matthews, who carried the ammunition for his machine gun. Edwin’s children and grandchildren saw the emotion as their dad and grandpa wept, telling how Matthews was killed alongside of him in the battle that night. He also spoke of how 200 men in his company climbed the hill but only 25 came out alive. Edwin’s faith in his Savior, Jesus Christ, brought him through this difficult time in his life and allowed him to live a normal life back at home. How many others in our communities carry these same kinds of difficult memories yet few of us are aware of the pain they continue to endure. Thank you, Korean veterans, for how you served your nation, and thank you to all our nation’s veterans.