Valley Korean War veterans hope not to be forgotten

People gathered in Austintown on Sunday for the Korean War Veterans Memorial Ceremony

AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – The Korean War is often nicknamed the Forgotten War due to its brevity (1950-53) and the lack of public attention it received.

But Sunday, people gathered in Austintown to make sure those who fought in it were remembered for their ultimate sacrifice.

“I just sit back and it brings back memories,” said Korean War veteran Ray Ornelas.

June marks the 67th anniversary of the Korean War.

Ornelas admits most of the memories are not pleasant.

“I personally was with a second lieutenant when he was captured,” Ornelas said. “Maybe like seven or 10 feet away from me when they grabbed him.”

120 men from Columbiana, Mahoning and Trumbull counties died while serving in the Korean War.

Sunday, veterans and civilians honored those men with a role call and rifle salute. A wreath of roses held a flower for each life lost.

“That’s when you really start thinking about how lucky you are to have all the freedoms that you have,” said Ohio Senator Joe Schiavoni. “When these people gave the ultimate sacrifice for us and didn’t even know us.”

Many Korean War veterans fear the public will never know them or their sacrifice because the war was short lived. They say Sunday’s event helps keep the memory of those who served alive.

“I don’t know how much they cover in school anymore as far as history and stuff, but to actually be aware,” said Michael Ekoniak Jr. of the Korean War Veteran’s Association.

“They know what they went through and hopefully they’ll remember what we’ve been through,” Ornelas said.