The Koreans who stood with veterans of the Korean War to get their photos taken on Friday know that “Freedom Is Not Free.” They came to recognize the contributions that these troops made to a free South Korea.
Phoenix Decorating Company has gone to great lengths to ensure that the floral representation of the Korean War Veterans Memorial, “Freedom Is Not Free,” in Washington D.C. is as accurate as possible. The float commemorates the 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean War and is sponsored by the Department of Defense.
The Korean War Veterans Memorial portrays 19 men from four branches of the United States armed forces, trudging over rough terrain in combat gear and ponchos. When the only photos that Phoenix could find of the memorial were front views of the statues, spokesman Brian Dancel was sent to Washington to get photos for the three-dimensional float representations.
Dancel took photos of the statues every 15 degrees until he had a complete set for each one. The 7-foot stainless steel sculptures are much larger on the float, with the one in front being 21 feet tall and the one in back 12 feet tall to create perspective.
Each statue in the Korean War Veterans Memorial is numbered, and the six recreated on “Freedom Is Not Free” are numbers 1, 2, 11, 12, 14 and 15. They represent different branches of the military—Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force—and different ethnicities. Individuals are not identified on the memorial; instead, photos of troops are sandblasted into the wall.
The Korean War saw many firsts: The first racially integrated troops, the first Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals (M*A*S*H), the first war in which the Air Force operated as a separate branch of the military, the first use of helicopters to evacuate and supply troops, the first use of troops from members of the United Nations.
Six Korean War veterans will ride on the float on Jan. 1. They are James Ferris and Sgt. Michael Glazzy, U.S. Marine Corps; Sgt. Minoru Tonai, U.S. Army; Silver Star recipients Solomon Jamerson and James McEachin, U.S. Army; and Medal of Honor recipient Hiroshi Miuyamura, U.S. Army.
Solomon Jamerson talks about his experience in the Korean War
We spoke with Solomon Jamerson, Lt. Col. ret., who gave us a capsule history of his service. He served in the infantry prior to the integration of the troops ordered under President Harry S. Truman as an aerial observer. For his heroism in assisting an ambushed battalion by flying over enemy troops after dark to scope out enemy artillery targets and direct fire towards them, he was awarded the Silver Star.
The plane, which he describes as “equivalent to a Piper Cub” was not equipped for night flight. As for armaments on board, “We each had a .45 caliber sidearm under the seat,” he said. Due to austerity measures in the U.S., Jamerson had no observer training.
“On a stroke of good luck,” he said, he and the pilot had asked American troops to fire their weapons. “The first round landed on North Koreans hidden in the brush.” The fire started coming from different directions, so Jamerson notified the troops on the ground.
“I dropped a note,” he laughed, citing the communication method used at the time. “We would write a note, weighted, and drop it out of the plane. It said, ‘I think you’re running into an ambush. Proceed with caution.’”
Jamerson seems to have been a born leader. “I was always pushed up to president or chair of my class,” he said. He was president of his 7th and 8th grade classes and chairman of the board in 9th grade. When he went to Compton High School, he started working, and then earned his Associate of Arts at Compton Community College. His desire to earn a four-year degree is what attracted him to the military.
“The offer was two years of college training if you served 18 months,” Jamerson said. “That would fit right into my program. But the army cancelled the program after I’d served 25 days.” The army gave him the option to go back to civilian life or enroll in officer training school. He took the latter. His 18 months turned into 21 years. He eventually earned a bachelor’s degree from San Francisco State College.
In 1949, his unit, the 2nd Infantry, was the only combat-ready unit in the United States. “In 1950, we had a rude awakening of putting the combat training to use,” he said. June 25, 1950 we were told to report back to base. Leave was cancelled. North Korea had attacked South Korea.”
Read about the “Canines with Courage” float that honors that dogs who go to war in this column.
The theme of the 124th Rose Parade and 99th Rose Bowl Game is “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” The Tournament of Roses is a celebration that lasts several weeks in the fall and winter, with the high points being the Rose Parade presented by Honda and the Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013. Keep following your Tournament of Roses Examiner for the latest news and for upcoming announcements.
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