Sixty-four years ago today — June 25, 1950 — forces from communist North Korea invaded South Korea, sparking the Korean War. Once a Japanese possession, Korea was divided after World War II. It is still divided today, decades after the three-year conflict that killed more than 55,000 U.S. troops.
Americans who fought there will be honored today with the dedication of a new Korean War Memorial in Lynnwood’s Veterans Park. Veterans and the public are welcome at the 3 p.m. event, which is the culmination of an Eagle Scout service project.
Art Winton, 16, is a Meadowdale High School junior and member of Lynnwood’s Boy Scout Troop 49. With guidance from Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1040, the teen spent about a year planning and raising money for the granite monument. The VFW post has worked since the late 1990s to transform the park near the Lynnwood Library into a place of honor for veterans.
“Our Scouts over the years have done a number of projects at the park,” said Larry Winton, Art’s father and the scoutmaster of Troop 49. The Eagle project was especially meaningful because the teen’s grandfather served in the military during the Korean War era.
Don Goodfellow, Art Winton’s maternal grandfather, was with the U.S. Merchant Marine. “He delivered troops to Korea. After that, he was drafted into the Army at the end of the Korean War and served in France,” Larry Winton said.
“I tell him everything about this project,” Art Winton said of his 85-year-old grandfather. Goodfellow lives on Whidbey Island.
Martin Spani, the VFW post’s commander, appeared before Lynnwood’s mayor and City Council in 2001 to change the name from Civic Center Park to Veterans Park. Since then, a plaza has been created with 912 inscribed bricks honoring people who have served in the armed forces over more than a century.
Several families who donated bricks had ancestors who fought in the Civil War, Spani said. Remembrances include those who served in recent years. One brick honors Marine Cpl. Steven Rintamaki, a Lynnwood man killed in Iraq in 2004.
Art Winton’s project started a year ago when he and Spani were at an event and the VFW leader raised the possibility of a Korean War monument. “It really motivated me,” the teen said.
Coming soon after World War II, at the dawn of the Cold War, the Korean War is often called “the Forgotten War.”
Larry Winton said it’s critical for Korean War veterans to be remembered now. “Those who served are passing on. We need to do this before they’re gone,” he said.
The memorial does not list names. It says, in part: “The People of Lynnwood, Washington dedicate this monument to all men and women who served in the Korean War, to whom we owe our deepest respect and gratitude.”
Fundraising was the teen’s biggest task. He visited more than a dozen service organizations to speak about the project. He raised $5,250 to cover costs of the monument and its installation. Members of Troop 49 pitched in to help.
Lynnwood Mayor Nicola Smith, City Council members, Troop 49 members and veterans are expected at today’s dedication. The event is part of Art Winton’s project, but he won’t be an Eagle Scout until paperwork is completed and approved, likely later this summer.
Korean War veteran Golden Cole plans to be at Veterans Park today. The Lake Forest Park man was activated in the Army Reserves on Aug. 19, 1950, two months after Soviet-supported forces from the north invaded the southern part of Korea.
He shipped out from San Francisco on the USS General John Pope, a troop transport ship that took him to Puson, Korea. He was there only four days when a surprise came. “They called me to headquarters and said, ‘Hey Cole, you’re being sent home,’” the 84-year-old Cole recalled.
Cole’s brother Harry, a Navy fighter pilot, was killed June 17, 1944, during the Battle of Saipan in the Pacific. His father, also named Harry, served in World War II with the Army Air Corps. He was injured in Italy. “It was stressful on my mother. Dad wrote some letters,” Cole said. From Korea, he was soon sent stateside.
Spani, a Marine Corps veteran who served in Vietnam, said Veterans Park is more than a place of honor. It has maps showing places where Americans have fought, in Europe and the Pacific theaters of World War II, in Korea, Vietnam, and during Desert Storm. “It’s a place to come and learn,” he said.
Spani gave Art Winton a book about the Korean War that will be presented to the Lynnwood Library.
Cole hopes schools will teach kids about the conflict. “They haven’t got a concept of it,” he said.
He is grateful to see a Korean War Memorial before it’s too late. “We’re going almost as fast as the World War II veterans,” Cole said.
Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; firstname.lastname@example.org.
A new Korean War Memorial will be dedicated at 3 p.m. today at Lynnwood’s Veterans Park, 44th Avenue W. and Veterans Way (194th Street SW). The memorial is 16-year-old Art Winton’s Eagle Scout service project. It was installed with the help of Boy Scout Troop 49 and the support of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1040.