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Saturday, June 24, 2000


Associated Press
A U.S. Navy honor guard peers out from behind
the flags of the United States and South Korea
during a ceremony earlier this week to remember
the daring U.S. landing at Inchon, South
Korea, in 1950. Hawaii ceremonies are
scheduled tomorrow.

Punchbowl rite
honors isles’
fallen soldiers

Tomorrow, those who
fought in Korea will be
remembered again

By Treena Shapiro


Nearly 50 years ago, Joseph Fuentes and members of his Marine reserve company from Hawaii stormed a hill in the Chosin area in Korea.

After days of bloody fighting, they pulled back but were forced to leave their buddy, Albino Sandabol.

Sandabol, initially classified as missing in action, was declared dead in 1953. His body, and those of others who lost their lives to the effort, lies unclaimed in North Korea, Fuentes said.

"It keeps bothering you all the time," said the Korean War veteran. "Sometimes we get better and we talk about it, but we cannot do anything."

Fuentes said he hopes that improving relations between North and South Korea may enable the United States to recover soldiers from North Korea, "alive or whatever they can find," he said.

But for now, all the veterans can do is keep their friends' memories alive. Tomorrow, the 50th anniversary of the war's start, those who fought in Korea will be remembered again at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Punchbowl.

Speakers tomorrow include Gov. Benjamin Cayetano; Gen. Edward L. Correa Jr., state adjutant general; Ji Doo Lee, consul general of the Republic of South Korea; Minerva Jean A. Falcon, consul general of the Philippines; and a representative of the United Nations.

The ceremony begins at 9 a.m. There will be a 21-gun salute and a missing-man formation by F-15 Eagles.

Fuentes, whose unit was activated in August 1950, said the Hawaii Marine veterans group called Chosin Few hopes to have a memorial service in December as well, commemorating the Chosin breakout.

He and other Marine Reservists from Hawaii thought they would be stationed in Kaneohe. But when fighting broke out, their unit was activated in August 1950.

In addition to the battle at the Chosin Reservoir, they fought in Pusan and made the landing at Inchon.

His company, many of whom were still in high school, had not expected to go to war, Fuentes said. After World War II the United States downgraded the Defense Department and equipment, he remembered. "Even the clothing we used was obsolete."

He said the "boys" went off to war and fought in subzero temperatures -- a rude awakening for Hawaii folk who had "never been to a snow country."

"We lost quite a few of our friends to form the first Marine invasion," Fuentes said. Hawaii lost 456 soldiers in the war.

Tomorrow's ceremony marks the beginning of a three-year commemoration period ending on Veterans Day Nov. 11, 2003.

The message Fuentes hopes people will take from the commemoration is: "It was not a forgotten war. It was a war to be remembered, that our boys gave their lives so that our children can have all the freedom that they want."

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