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Star of Koto-Ri

Dignitaries and survivors of the Korean War Battle of the Chosin Reservoir (also known in Korea as the Battle of Lake Jangjjn) gathered at Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery Saturday, July 9th to dedicate a new “Chosin Few” Memorial, sponsored by the Metroplex Military Charitable Trust and the North Texas Chapter of the Chosin Few. 

“Without the valiant efforts and sacrifices of the men who fought under the most brutal conditions, South Korea would be under Communist rule today,” said LtGen Richard Carey. “Still today, South Korea stands in the balance between the U.S. and China. When I recall the conditions under which we fought, the brutal weather was a more formidable enemy than the Communist forces. We lost so many good men on that march to the sea.”

LtGen Carey was a 22-year-old rifle platoon commander when he fought in Korea, including leading his men ashore at the Inchon Landing and fighting in the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir. LtGen Carey earned a Silver Star and Purple Heart Medal after being wounded in action later in the war. He also was awarded the Legion of Merit (2); the Distinguished Flying Cross; the Bronze Star Medal; a single mission Air Medal with combat V in lieu of a bronze star15 Air medals and many other commendations throughout his 37-year career in the Marine Corps. 

As Commanding General of the 9th Marine Amphibious Brigade in April 1975 LtGen Carey led “Operation Frequent Wind” during the evacuation of Saigon, Vietnam, which rescued more than 120,000 South Vietnamese as Saigon fell to the NVA. LtGen Carey retired from the Marine Corps in March 1983. Since his retirement, he has been active in veteran affairs and was instrumental in getting the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery located here. LtGen Carey has been a key force in upgrading local VA medical facilities.

Designed by Dallas sculptors Mark Austin Byrd and Jenelle Armstrong Byrd, the DFW Chosin Few - Jangjin Memorial is a 12-foot-tall, polished black granite wall with text engravings on both sides that tell the story of the important battle. Prominent members of the Korean community helped raise funds for the memorial and attended the dedication.

“We worked for more than four years to get approvals and funding for the DFW Chosin Few Memorial,” said Sculptor Mark Austin Byrd, a Vietnam War-era Marine Cobra helicopter pilot who received the Distinguished Flying Cross. “We focused on portraits of individuals who made a significant impact in the battle, including the 17 Medal of Honor recipients.”

In November 1950 the People’s Republic of China sent more than 120,000 troops to infiltrate the northeastern part of North Korea and trap the 18,000 UN forces, including U.S. Marines and Army soldiers, at the Chosin Reservoir (Lake Jangjin.) Survivors of the battle are known as the “Chosin Few.” Military historians consider the battle to be one of the most significant battles in the history of the Marine Corps. From November 27 to December 13, 1950, UN forces fought their way through an overwhelming force of enemy soldiers in frigid temperatures as low as 36 degrees below zero.

Low-relief bronze sculptures on the wall depict portraits of 40 men who distinguished themselves in the battle. The memorial is topped with a stainless-steel Star of Koto-Ri, based on a star the Marines saw shining through a blizzard the night before moving out. The star gave them hope the skies would clear so they could have air support the next day as they evacuated 100,000 Koreans in what is known as the “Christmas Miracle.” 

Among the 17 Medal of Honor recipients was LTC Don Faith, Jr., who commanded the U.S. Army’s 1st Battalion, 32ndRegiment east of Hagaru-Ri, Korea in November 1950. Throughout five days of fierce close-quarters combat, LTC Faith gave no thought to his own safety, directing his men from a forward position while ignoring his own fatal wounds. He received the nation’s highest honor posthumously and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Another Medal of Honor recipient was native Texan 1stLt Frank Mitchell.  He led a Marine rifle platoon in a heavily wooded area near Hansan-Ni, Korea in November 1950 when his men came under heavy fire at point blank range.  1stLt Mitchell risked his life multiple times to lead his men through enemy lines.  He was mortally wounded and was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously. He is buried in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii.

“We are honored to help preserve the memory of these courageous men who fought so bravely and endured indescribable suffering to save South Korea from Communist control,” said Robert V. “Rob” Barnes, III, CEO of Dee Brown Inc. 

The Metroplex Military Charitable Trust is a 501(c)(3) charity and was started in 1990. Its mission is to provide economic support to local military personnel (regular, reserve, and retired) and to military support charities and volunteer organizations. Its longest and largest effort has been to provide direct support to families of amputees, PTSD, and brain-injured OIF & OEF Vets as well as the Vets themselves through the North Texas VA Warrior Patient Shuttle service since September 2007. More info is available at metroplexmarines.org.

Founded in Dallas circa 1955, Dee Brown, Inc. is responsible for the masonry and stonework on iconic projects, including the American Airlines Center; Nasher Sculpture Center; George W. Bush Presidential Center; Old Red Courthouse; The Getty Center in Los Angeles; Meyerson Symphony Center; Houston Museum of Natural Science; Dallas Country Club; Hunt Oil Headquarters; Trammel Crow Center; AT&T Stadium and many others. More information about the company can be found at deebrowncompanies.com.