By Kim Brooks, Express Editor
Last week, local Korean War Veteran Roman Welter organized a reunion of Korean War veterans in the area. They spent time touring the Stone City quarry, getting a behind the scenes tour of the facility. They also had a home-cooked meal at Camp Courageous of Iowa in Monticello and were treated to a tour of the camp. They also had a tour of the National Motorcycle Museum.
This is the first time this group reunited in Jones County, with the veterans coming from all over the country. The farthest any of them traveled is from West Virginia. The men represented the 21st regiment of the 24th division. In all, about 20 Korean War veterans took part in the trip. This is the 21st year for the annual reunion, held at a different location each year.
“This was all started by us veterans,” said Welter. He said they’ve reunited in Nashville, Tenn.; West Virginia; Indiana; St. Louis; Little Rock, Ark.; Branson, Mo.; and Des Moines.
“There used to be 100-plus veterans who met,” Welter said. “The group is getting smaller. There’s not many left anymore.”
Each year, a different veteran plans the reunion. Welter said when the numbers started dwindling, George Uting, one of the veterans from Wisconsin, picked it up.
“I didn’t want to see it disband,” said Uting. “We’re still going.”
All of the Korean War veterans are in their 80s. The war ended 59 years ago, with many of these men having served in their early to mid-20s. Most of the men said they were drafted into the service at some point and time.
“We didn’t know enough to hide in the cornfields,” joked Uting about being drafted.
Some were wounded in battle and received Purple Hearts; others were lucky. In all, they spent anywhere from two to four years in the service.
PHOTO: A group of Korean War veterans visited the area last week, touring Camp Courageous. The event was organized by Roman Welter, and consisted of veterans from the 21st regiment of the 24th division. Front row from left, Ralph Burge of Mechanicsville; Herman Westrich of Arnold, Mo; Harvey Vance of Muscatine; George Uting of River Falls, Wis.; and Rue Fields of Rogersville, Mo. Back row, Don Weygandt of Cleveland, Ohio; Robert Wesner of Manning, Iowa; Arnold Riddle of Scott Depot, V.W.; LaVerne Weber of Oswego, Ill.; and Roman Welter of Monticello. Thomas Vaghaun of Mallard, Iowa, attended the reunion but was unavailable for the photo. (Photo by Kim Brooks)