La Crosse honors Korean War soldiers
La Crosse took time to honor soldiers who fought and sacrificed their lives in the war.
Saturday, the American Legion, Korean War Veterans Association and the VFW came together to honor Stanley Christianson of Mindoro and Mitchell Red Cloud Jr. of Jackson County.
The ceremony took place at Oak Grove cemetery in La Crosse.
Both men lost their lives fighting in the war. They were also Medal of Honor recipients.
A third soldier who fought and survived the Korean War was also honored Saturday.
It's a special day for the Devine family.
“Not just a proud son, but proud family,” said Mark Devine.
They're here to honor Frank Devine, a drill instructor with the U.S. Marine Corps. He was also a husband, a father and for some, a grandfather.
“My father came ashore at the age of 19 at Incheon, and he also served in the Chosin Reservoir Campaign,” said Devine.
His father would spend the next four years in Korea taking part in some of the most historic fighting in the US Marine Corps' history.
“My father was part of an action that evacuated thousands of Koreans as the Marines exited the Chosin Reservoir,” said Devine. “They literally took with them thousands and thousands of refugees - refugees that probably would have been killed by the advancing Chinese or the North Koreans.”
Out of the hundreds of thousands that went missing in action or died, Devine survived.
He returned to the La Crosse area in 1953 with a silver star and two purple hearts.
“This is an emotional day for our family,” said Devine. “We miss our father, but we also remember that there are many men who didn't come home, many men and women who served in Korea and never came home.”
“We don't dare forget those who have died,” said Louie Ferris, the Korean War Veterans Association vice president. “For us, we mainly think of it could have been us. ‘How come we didn't die? How come the guy next to me got hit?’”
As the family lays a wreath in his honor and in the honor of those who didn't make it home, they're making sure the sacrifices they made are never forgotten.
“Freedom isn't free,” said Devine. “There's great sacrifices made by the generation before us and sacrifices still being made by generations today.”
After he came back from serving in Korea, Frank Devine spent almost the next 40 years serving in the La Crosse American Legion. He passed away in 1994 at the age of 68.
It's estimated more than 92,000 American service members were wounded. More than 4,000 people went missing in action and 36,000 died in the Korean War.
North and South Korea are still technically at war since the armistice signed 60 years ago was only a truce, not a peace treaty.
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