TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. — Lt. Gen. Lee K. Levy II addressed Korean War veterans at a Norman Veterans Center honor ceremony March 30, calling them heroes for their service in the three-year conflict.
The ceremony began with young uniformed service members escorting each of the 106 veterans and assembling them into rows in a large community room. The majority of the veterans were aided by wheelchairs.
The commander of the Air Force Sustainment Center, headquartered at Tinker Air Force Base, told the veterans that they endured bloody battles and difficult times in the 1950-1953 war. They did their duty and honorably served their country.
“I would suggest to you that this room today is a hall of heroes,” Levy said. “It’s men and women who swore to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”
The commander also addressed the Korean conflict’s characterization as the “Forgotten War,” a reference to the lack of attention many Americans paid to warfighters’ sacrifices after it ended.
“The fact that we didn’t honor it responsibly is not a criticism or indictment of your service, the content of your character or the quality of your commitment to the nation,” Levy said. “So today, we get to make up some of that lost ground for that ‘Forgotten War’ by being in this hall of heroes.”
More than 200 family members, other veterans and visitors attended the ceremony. Distinguished guests and speakers included retired Maj. Gen. Myles Deering, executive director of the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs, and state and local public officials.
Levy pointed out the presence of the young men and women in uniform who helped to honor the veterans.
“They, too, wrote the same check payable to the United States that you wrote, payable for an amount up to and including their life,” Levy said. “I pray that we never cash those checks, but you should know the quality and character of your service leads directly to the quality and character of the service of the Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen in this room standing around you.
“You should be immensely proud because this long line of Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen are ready to take your place in the wars of the 21st century, if heaven forbid, they should be required.”
Approximately 600 Oklahomans died in the war. Tinker AFB provided maintenance support for bombers and cargo planes during the conflict. Fort Sill was a key artillery training post for recruits.