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North Korea's threats bring back memories of service years

TNS Regional News • Apr 10, 2013 at 3:07 PM

Gene Meyer has been keeping a close watch on the television, waiting for updates about the conflict involving North Korea.

The 91-year-old Toledo resident is all too familiar with the fighting that has plagued the area for more than six decades.

Mr. Meyer spent seven months in South Korea during the Korean War in 1952 and 1953 and kept a book of photographs and accolades that show his service during that time.

He also has many memories of his short service, including an aversion for the smell of kimchi, a fermented cabbage and vegetable concoction that is considered Korea’s national dish.

But it is what is happening in the present — including North Korea’s threats of nuclear attacks — that is on his mind.

Kim Jong Un, supreme leader of North Korea, has threatened to launch missiles and to attack other countries, leading to increased attentions between the United States and North Korea over the last several weeks.

“I get so mad when I think about what they're doing. He’s [Kim Jong Un] got everybody up in arms and nobody's doing anything about it,” Mr. Meyer said.

After recalling how much his military police battalion was disliked during his time there, he said the relations between North and South Koreans were — and continue to be — especially rocky.

“They hate us,” he said. “They didn't want us there.”

Mr. Meyer documented his service time by taking photographs, stating he “just wanted something to remember.” And remember, he does.

The West Park Place resident, who also was a police officer in New York for 20 years and served as a border patrol officer, has lined his apartment walls with certificates of service and medals. He was in the military for about eight years, he said, serving in the Air Force and the Army.

The current turmoil caused by North Korea’s threats is a subject he hopes can be changed.

“We're gonna have problems with this guy [Kim Jong Un]. ... We're gonna have a big explosion,” Mr. Meyer predicted. “We have to do something about it.”

Mr. Meyer said his concerns stem from the unknown and unpredictable nature of the new leader.

But the solution about what to do isn't clear yet: “That I can't tell you,” Mr. Meyer said.

Uncertainty about the actions of Kim is also troublesome to another local Korean War veteran. Bowling Green resident Howard McCord, 80, who served in the Navy aboard the USS Essex in 1953, said the scare tactics are nothing new.

“They are constantly going through periods of excitability and irascibility,” Mr. McCord said. “I think they are a danger, but not a terrible danger. I think there's a certain irrationality that's just very hard to understand.”

Mr. McCord thought the situation was being well-handled by authorities.

“I don't think there's an awful lot we can do that we aren't doing, to calm the situation,” he said.

Mr. McCord said that the threats can be part of a power struggle and the need to assert a powerful position. “He's very young and inexperienced and clearly he has to try to solidify his own position,” he said. “I'm sure this is part of [Kim's] attempt to make himself appear to be really a leader of the people.”


By Kelly McLendon - The Blade, Toledo, Ohio (MCT)

©2013 The Blade (Toledo, Ohio)

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