Let Us Remember and Honor Those Who Fought for Korea’s Freedom

The Korean War started on this day — June 25 — seventy years ago, when when North Korea invaded South Korea.  By early July, the United States had sent troops into battle against the North Koreans, who were aided by their fellow Communist ally, China.

My father. Stan Kay, in Korea.

More than 36,000 Americans, 170,000 South Korean soldiers, 400,000 North Korean soldiers, 200,000 Chinese soldiers, and 2-3 million Korean civilians would die before the intense three-year conflict came to an end in an uneasy truce that has lasted to the present.

My family was deeply affected by the Korean War.  My father, his brothers, and all of his male first cousins served in combat.  My father’s cousin PFC Irwin Handler, USMC, was 20 years old when he killed in action on December 5, 1950, at the Battle of Chosin Reservoir.  My father served in the U.S. Air Force, flying combat missions as the bombardier on a B-26 Invader.  He lost most of his hearing.

Photo taken by my father during a bombing mission.

Long called “The Forgotten War,” news of the Korean War was censored at the time, and decades later its memory is far overshadowed in public consciousness by World War II and the Vietnam War.

It was not until July 1995, 42 years after the end of the war, that a memorial was finally dedicated in Washington, D.C., to those who served.

But my father and his family have never forgotten those who suffered and died fighting for Korea’s freedom, nor have the millions of Koreans and Korean-Americans whose lives and families were shaped, in part, by those three very bloody years of war.

Let us remember and honor their bravery and sacrifice today and always, as we continue to pray for a Korea that is united and free.

“We Live in Fame or Go Down in Flame”


A-26 Invader from my father’s squadron on a mission during the Korean War. Photo by Stanley Kay.

Today, September 18, 2016, is the 69th anniversary of the creation of the United States Air Force, which became an independent military service on September 18, 1947.

The Air Force evolved from the United States Army Signal Corps in the early 1900s, and then into the United States Army Air Corps and the Army Forces in World War II.

My father, Stan Kay, in the U.S. Air Force in Korea during the Korean War.

The mission of the Air Force declared to be:

  • to preserve the peace and security, and provide for the defense, of the United States, the Territories, Commonwealths, and possessions, and any areas occupied by the United States;
  • to support national policy;
  • to implement national objectives;
  • to overcome any nations responsible for aggressive acts that imperil the peace and security of the United States.

The stated mission of the USAF today is to “fly, fight, and win in air, space, and cyberspace.

My father, Stan Kay, served in the United States Air Force during the Korean War, flying A-26 Invaders  on bombing missions against North Korean targets.

A-26s from my father’s bomber squadron flying on a mission during the Korean War. View from my father’s perspective as navigator.

He never fully recovered his hearing.

He never considered himself a hero.

But he was.

Thank you, Dad, for teaching me to “Aim High.”

Happy Birthday to the United States Air Force and thank you to all the brave men and women who have served and are serving in the United States Armed Forces.