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00000177-2120-db48-a97f-fb22304a0000South Carolina has a rich military history, beginning in the Colonial Era. Today, the state has a significant military presence. SC Public Radio and SCETV offers news coverage of South Carolina's active bases, military personnel and veterans, and the economic and cultural impact they have on communities throughout the state and across the nation, as well as stories and profiles exploring our state's military history.

65 Years After Korean War Armistice, Remains of 55 Soldiers Are Repatriated

Korean War Veterans Monument at Memorial Park in Columbia, SC
Thelisha Eaddy/SC Public Radio
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Korean War Veterans Monument at Memorial Park in Columbia, SC

Over 100 soldiers from South Carolina are still missing and unaccounted for, from the Korean War. July 27 marks the 65th anniversary of the armistice that ended the war. The war started in June of 1950 and over the span of three years, more than 36,000 American soldiers were killed. Friday, remains believed to be of 55 US troops killed during the War, were returned to the United States by North Korea.

Conrad Nowak is president of the Foothills Chapter of the Korean War Veterans Association in Greenville. He joined the army, five days after graduating high school. “I graduated and then the Korean War broke out. So I waited until the first of the year, and then after the first of the year, I enlisted.”

Nowak said he was sent to Korea in the fall of 1951. He was assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division, 10th Combat Engineers. “We would support the second infantry division when they were on the line, and they would support us when we were up on the main line of resistance.”

Korean War monument in Memorial Park in downtown Columbia gives the numbers of how many South Carolinian served, was wounded and died in the war.
Credit Thelisha Eaddy
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Korean War monument in Memorial Park in downtown Columbia gives the numbers of how many South Carolinian served, was wounded and died in the war.

In 1953, Nowak returned home and was among the first American troops to land in the US after the armistice. “They gave us a ticker tape parade through the streets of Seattle Washington.”

He said, the returning of the 55 soldiers will mean a lot to many people. "It’s something that’s going to take quite a while; to get this all figured out as to who they were."

Nowak said, he can imagine the drain on families still waiting for loved ones to be located and identified. “I think the people that are still surviving those who have been lost  are all excited and especially the children of them. I think they just can’t wait.”

Today, he and other members of the veterans association are actively raising money to help support the building of the "Wall of Remembrance." It will be incorporated into the Korean War Veterans Memorial that currently sits on the National Mall in Washington, DC. 

“We started raising money since April of this past year and as of right now, [and have raise] approximately ninety-two, ninety-three thousand dollars since. That’s taken a lot of hard work."

In 2016, President Obama authorized the establishment of the “Wall of Remembrance.” According to http://www.koreanwarvetsmemorial.org, the Wall will be made of laminated glass and encircle the rear 180 degrees of the Memorial’s Pool of Remembrance. The name of 36,574 Americans will be etched etched into the wall.

LISTEN: When an MIA Soldier is Located- Nowak shares a childhood memory of a neighbor missing in action during WWII and describes what it was like, when that soldier was finally located.

when_a_mia_soldier_is_found.mp3

Nowak, who will soon turn 88 years old, said he may not live to see the completion of the wall, but is excited to know there will be a permanent place for some of his fallen comrades to be remembered.

“I know I would be very interested. I had a couple of friends who were missing in action and they haven’t been found, or anything else.”

According to the Defense POW/ MIA Accounting Agency 110 soldiers from South Carolina are still missing and unaccounted for, from the Korea War.

SNAPSHOT: South Carolina's Missing and Unaccounted For. CLICK HERE FOR COMPLETE LIST

A snapshot of South Carolina's missing and unaccounted for soldiers from Korean War.
A snapshot of South Carolina's missing and unaccounted for soldiers from Korean War.

RELATED: Replica of Vietnam Memorial Wall Comes to Camden