Fri, 2016-08-12 05:00 News Staff
Cove man is state president of Korean War Veterans Association
By J.S. FREDERICK
The number of Korean War veterans is dwindling, but members of the Korean War Veterans Association like Eddie L. Bell of Copperas Cove are attempting to keep these veterans’ history and stories alive.
In remembrance of an often forgotten war, Bell, the state president of the Korean War Veterans Association, recalled the national narrative the war paved for American culture.
“It had and did have the velocity for reshaping the image of the American people forever.” Unobstructed willpower and fortitude of the then considered second-class citizens was met with the larger hope that winning Uncle Sam’s wars could change their social status.
Bell stated there’s a reason most of the Korean war veterans reside right here in Texas.
“Unlike the WWI and WWII soldiers, the Korean War vets were not just run-of-the mill Anglo-Saxon soldiers, they were immigrants. Mexican immigrants. European immigrants. The majority of Korean war vets were minorities.”
Bell holds a unique perspective on raising awareness for his Korean War association. Ironically in an era which championed the landmarks of several civil rights cases, the Korean War did not receive the same status among history books and even veterans of the day.
In fact, Bell holds, “Veterans of the world wars belittled the Korean vets, exemplifying it as just a petty conflict.” American history of today speaks differently, but Bell boldly reveals a shocking reality.
“I have yet to attend an American function honoring Korean war veterans. I don’t even know of a program in the USA that honors them. On the federal level there are many political functions going on, but it’s mostly political. On the state level, the functions are non-existent.”
But for the existence of KWVA, living in Texas and sponsoring the rising growth of Bell’s organization for the Forgotten War vets has been met with much success.
“You have the majority of the Korean war vets in Texas! My next step is to do the exactly same thing with the president, as I did with the Texas governor. As Commander in Chief, I believe the president has an obligation to support the troops. I want his or her duties and responsibilities to be in sync with his constitutional beliefs and authority invested by the constitution. If you support troops, you will respect and honor the Korean war vets. That’s one of my goals. That’s what I think should happen.”
Having a title is one thing, but being able to execute it is another, and Bell wants to reach the American people in a profound way that Korean millennials and their elderly profoundly understand.
“The Koreans fully are engaged with their history, the Americans are the ones that are lost with the Korean War. We are currently protecting the 38th parallel that’s still there, and people still get shot at. The Korean conflict has the most concentrated area of bombshells and IEDs. The Koreans have never forgotten the brave liberation front on their homeland.” Bell held up a folder full of letters from Koreans of any age profusely expressing gratitude to American troops for their honor and fortitude in a memory that is quite present. “No forgotten war exists in their mindsets,”
Bell punctuated with his vast experience as a soldier, “…because they acutely realize that, if China had had its way, there would be no Korea. These letters from Korean kids show something the president of the U.S. needs to read for himself, and so does the rest of America.”
With a lifetime of community service and service to country, Bell, a retired first sergeant, gave a nod to his Vietnam vet priorities.
“I was trained by Korean veterans for the Vietnam war. I was met with resistance when I fought abroad, and I was met with resistance when I returned home. But both wars were teachers in patience, persistence and honor. And I want to bring that to America as I have room in my life to give to the American people.”
The KWVA is a federally-tax exempt organization that was incorporated in the New York state in 1985. Its founder was a former member of F Company, 27th Infantry Regiment (Wolfhounds), 25th Infantry Division, William T. Norris, who served as a sergeant in the Korean War.
The group’s mission is to “defend our nation, care for our veterans, perpetuate our legacy, remember our missing and fallen, maintain our memorial, and support a free Korea.”
In the state of Texas, there are nine departments of the KWVA, with Bell being President and Commander for the state of Texas. There are 307 chapters throughout the United States.