Special to the Press
BRISTOL- Veterans gathered around the Korean War monument on Memorial Boulevard Wednesday in honor of those who served and those who never made it home.
The ceremony was in recognition of the Korean War armistice day, which had its 64th anniversary Thursday.
President of Korean Veterans Association Jim Bosquet and Bob Barnett put together the event. David Peplau did the invocation and Brother Leonard Webster did the benediction.
“The Korean veterans are very proud of the time they served... and to them this ceremony means a lot,” Bosquet said.
Former Bristol mayor and Vietnam War veteran Art Ward led the ceremony. Ward is also a Purple Heart recipient.
Korean War veteran Omer Deabay gave a speech for the first time at the monument.
“I’m probably one of the few MIAs who came back from Korea,” he said. Deabay was MIA for three and a half days.
He said that while he was missing he thought he would never make it home again and was beyond thankful when he did.
“You can’t imagine being there,” Deabay said. During the war, soldiers dug 147 miles of trenches, laid wire, dealt with freezing temperatures and much more, he said.
Deabay also brought up an important issue veterans are still dealing with today: PTSD.
“I work with the VA two or three days a week doing PTSD sessions. You should see these sick boys coming back now,” he said. After Deabay came back from war, there was no support system in place for people with PTSD.
Today, the government requires soldiers returning home to be evaluated and given help if they need it, Deabay said. However, more could still be done.
“We got to start working on peace,” he said.
Sheila Bosquet also spoke and gave a brief history of the Bristol Korean Veterans Association.
The group started as the Bristol Korean Memorial Committee in 1994 to raise money to build a monument on Memorial Boulevard.
After fundraising the required $20,000, the committee built a black granite monument engraved with a map of Korea and the names of those who died in the war.
In 1996, the monument was dedicated by the deputy ambassador of Korea.
The group also created a Korean War memorial in Forestville and later put in the metal bridge in Memorial Boulevard Park.
In 1998, the group became the Bristol Korean Veterans Association and has had many fundraisers to help out veterans.
“This organization is one of the best in Bristol and I’ve very happy to be the commander of this organization,” Bosquet said.
“I think it’s quite evident... the impact that this organization has had on this community and the preservation of the Korean War,” Ward said. “This organization has been an integral part in just about every veteran-related event or occasion that has occurred since their inception.”
The event also included the POW and MIA ceremony, which remembers the people who went off to war but never returned home. Right next to the monument was a table set for one in their memory.
Barnett also spoke, highlighting the importance of veterans of different wars supporting one another.
“Our motto is veterans for veterans,” Barnett said. There were several Vietnam veterans at the Korean War ceremony showing their support.
To the veterans and their families, taking time to honor those who served and those who lost their lives is very important.
“It’s important for the 40,000 guys we lost,” said Korean War veteran Richard Avery. He said the U.S. troops were instrumental in giving the people of South Korea back their country.
To Barnett, events like these are important because his brother died in the Korean War and he wants his brother’s sacrifice to be remembered.
“If it wasn’t for veterans ... we wouldn’t have freedom of speech, freedom of religion,” said Korean War veteran Charlie Ricker. “Veterans have been protecting our freedoms for all these years.”