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The Korean War Memorial, far left, is constructed of South Dakota granit weighing 25,000 pounds. The block in the front represents the 40th Infantry Division at Camp Cooke. The bridge symbolizes combat training in Japan. The third piece represents the Division in Korea. The Division's patch is seen in the photo, top right. A large crowd of veterans and family members, bottom right, were on hand.
Photos by Bill Morson--Lompoc Record



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40th INFANTRY DIVISION KOREAN WAR MEMORIAL


By NORA K. WALLACE
NEWS-PRESS STAFF WRITER
nwallace@newspress.com
Sept 2, 2000


FULL CIRCLE


The first time Thomas J. DeGraw came to what's now Vandenberg Air Force Base, he was a 17-year-old private in the California National Guard.After a few months of training at what was then Camp Cooke, he shipped out to the Korean War as part of the Army's 40th Infantry Division.

On Friday, 50 years to the day that the first members of the division rode into the base on rail cars, retired Brig. Gen. DeGraw returned as one of about 2,000 visitors to dedicate a memorial to the thousands of men who served in the 40th Infantry from 1950 to 1954.

"I think my service during Korea was a defining time in my life," said DeGraw, who was instrumental in getting the memorial built. "I learned a lot. I was 17. I learned so much about people. That served me well through the rest of my life. I felt it was time I should pay it back."

Enclosed in a circular design, the reddish granite memorial depicts the unit's 12-pointed blue star, and an Oriental lantern. The opening in the star is oriented toward Korea, the "land of the morning calm," some 5,792 miles away."They fought with great determination, courage and honor against an aggressor nation during the Korean War," the monument reads.

During a more than hour-long ceremony Friday, veterans, their families and active duty military members recalled the service given by those who served in Korea.

"It's very important," said retired Maj. Gen. Charles A. Ott Jr. of Santa Barbara. "It means something, particularly to those who served and to their families, and the people still serving. It shows the country doesn't forget."

Ott, 80, who founded the now-defunct Ott Hardware Co. in Santa Barbara, served in the Army in World War II and in Korea, and eventually was commanding general of the 40th Infantry. He later became director of the Army National Guard. After the ceremonies, those with whom he served clamored for a handshake or to pose for a photograph.

The pathway around the $110,000 memorial is full of granite rectangles, 700 of which are inscribed with the names and home states of those who served in the division. People donated $100 per brick to help pay for the memorial.

The idea for the memorial came to DeGraw one morning while he was vacationing at Vandenberg five years ago. The idea of building a memorial had been talked about for some time, but no one ever volunteered to take on the project. Then, one morning on a run, DeGraw passed by a set of old barracks."There were a lot of ghosts out there," recalled DeGraw, a former Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy.

He started traveling to Korean War military reunions around the country, compiling a list of more than 6,000 names of veterans and enlisting the help of a cadre of volunteers who helped design and build the memorial. What they wanted to ensure was that future generations remember the sacrifice of the division, whose soldiers fought at places like Heartbreak Ridge, the Punchbowl, Kapyong and Sandbag Castle.

Numbers tell a story as well: More than 100,000 men served from 1950 to 1954, when the infantry division was demobilized; they spent 342 days in combat; 376 men were killed; 1,457 were wounded; three were awarded Medals of Honor; nine received Distinguished Service Crosses; 246 Silver Stars were awarded; and 675 men received Bronze Stars for valor.

"This is a special and sacred moment," said retired Gen. Edward C. Meyer. "It's a tremendous opportunity to think about the friends and comrades who died in Korea and aren't able to join us."

Dave Barrack of San Diego traveled to the ceremony Friday with his family, to remember those in the 140th Antiaircraft Artillery battalion, a unit of the division. "It's beautiful," he said, gazing toward the memorial. "I feel very proud. To be recognized finally is really heartwarming."

Veterans this year are remembering the 50th anniversary of the start of the Korean War. Many of the hundreds of retired soldiers and officers who attended the ceremonies Friday wore reunion shirts and hats, and many more wore medals pinned to their chests.

"For the next three commemorative years, we will remember that the price of freedom is not free," said retired Col. Michael R.S. Teilmann, the event's emcee, along with retired Maj.Gen. Johnny Grant. "That will be echoed and echoed and echoed. We should all remember that."

Grant told those gathered that it's a mistake to label people such as athletes and musicians as "heroes." "I respect their talent, but they're not heroes," Grant said. "The real heroes are those who risked their necks, put their lives on the line, to preserve freedom and democracy ... You are genuine, authentic American heroes.



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Head on shot of the 40th Inf Div Memorial.
Photo submitted by Ed Marshall
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This photo shows the blocks that former members purchased in order to raise funds for the Memorial.Photo submitted by Ed Marshall
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A tank on static display next to the 40th Inf Div Memorial..
Photo submitted by Ed Marshall
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Left to right former members of the 160th Inf Regt. Bob Howe-"E" Co, Ed Marshall-"H" Co, Wayne Gamble-"H" Co.
Photo submitted by Ed Marshall
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Another photo of Bob Howe, Ed Marshall and Wayne Gamble.
Photo submitted by Ed Marshall
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Standing in front of the Officers Club. Left to right. Art Baumer, Bob Howe, Ed Marshall and Wayne Gamble.
Photo submitted by Ed Marshall
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