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A wary eye on Koreas

Area veterans offer opinions on peninsula's latest crisis

May 24, 2010
Memorial Day has long been a day of remembering those killed in service to their country. This year, however, it's also a time of watching warily to see if one of their past wars reignites — Korea.

There, a "police action" from 1950-53 claimed 54,246 American lives, millions of Koreans and Chinese, and thousands of people from other nations, but has never officially ended. Since then, North and South Korea have had occasional skirmishes and naval clashes, including this March's torpedoing of the South's warship Cheonan, which Seoul accused Pyongyang of committing.

Local veterans who served there have a mixed view of where the current situation is likely to go.

"I think it's going to be negotiated one way or another," said Sturbridge's Robert Briere. "It'll be the same thing we've seen there for years."

Briere is an Air Force veteran who spent a year there just after the 1953 armistice. Although he didn't see combat, he saw its aftermath, recalling ruined villages and children "pimping their mothers and sisters" to get food money.

Southbridge's Laurent McDonald, by contrast, was in battle there with the Marines.

"It's been the same for all of us all these years — what did we do there?" he said. "We fought all the way to the Yalu [River, the North Korea-China border,] and were pulled back to the 38th Parallel and told to sit there and look at each other. It was an unfinished job; we should have followed McArthur's advice and finished it."

See Wednesday's Southbridge Evening News for complete coverage of community news.

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