October is American Archives Month. To celebrate, we are highlighting our staff around the country and their favorite records from the holdings in the National Archives.
Today’s staff member is Cody White, an archivist at the National Archives at Denver. Here’s his explanation of why his favorite record is a particular Purple Heart at the Truman Presidential Library and Museum:
"Nearly two million of them have been issued over the years, but the story behind this particular medal is what really affected me the first time I saw it. Simply put, a distraught father who lost his son in the Korean War sent the posthumous medal, with accompanying letter, back to Truman. It’s a succinct, yet devastating letter to read and if I remember the story correctly Truman in turn kept the letter and medal close, with staff finding it in his personal office desk after he passed in 1972."
"That simple display, it hits you right when you leave the gallery at the Harry S. Truman Library & Museum , knocked me out and has stuck with me since I first saw it. I can’t imagine the burden of such leadership; the stress, the second guessing, and the memories you’ll carry until you die.”
"On that same trip I swung through Hannibal, where Tom tricked me into painting a fence."
Image: Letter to Truman from distraught father: http://www.trumanlibrary.org/exhibit_documents/index.php?tldate=1953-00-00&groupid=5118&pagenumber=1&collectionid=korea.
National Hispanic Heritage Month: Modesto Cartagena, the most decorated Hispanic soldier of the Korean War
Today we remember Modesto Cartagena, the most decorated Hispanic soldier of the Korean War.
Cartagena was a humble man born to a poor family who lived in the small town of Cayey, Puerto Rico. He was among the first from the island to volunteer for military service when the United States entered World War II. He served in the 65th Infantry Regiment, an all-Puerto Rican regiment also known as “The Borinqueneers,” during World War II and later in the Korean War.
During the Korean War, Cartagena earned the nickname “One Man Army.” Hill 206 near Yonchon, Korea, was heavily guarded on April 19, 1951, by a well-entrenched and fanatically determined hostile force. While under attack, Cartagena destroyed four enemy emplacements before he was wounded, thus saving the lives of the men in his unit and enabling the company to take the hill.
Keep reading (and en español) at: Prologue: Pieces of History » Modesto Cartagena, the most decorated Hispanic soldier of the Korean War / Modesto Cartagena el soldado hispano más condecorado de la Guerra de Corea.
POW/MIA Recognition Day
Established by an Act of Congress, POW/MIA Recognition Day is observed on the 3rd Friday in September in honor of prisoners of war and those still missing in action.
"Nurses in the Army" from THE BIG PICTURE for International Nurses Day:
Americans are well aware of the great and heroic achievements of United States Army nurses. In World War II and during the Korean War, the Army nurse went through great hardship in performance of her duty — the same dangers endured by the troops which she accompanied into combat. But relatively little has been reported of the Army nurse in peacetime. Yet, she still serves — not only in the States — but all over the world. THE BIG PICTURE gives television audiences some impression of the work of an Army nurse overseas. Not only her work will be shown, but how she spends her leisure time and sometimes what she thinks and feels.
International Nurses Day is observed on May 12 in honor of nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale’s birthday (5/12/1820 - 8/13/1910).
Joseph Ambrose, an 86-year-old World War I veteran, watches the dedication day parade for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. He is holding the flag that covered the casket of his son, who was killed in the Korean War, 11/13/1982
Remembering the sacrifices made by veterans of all generations on Veterans Day.
September 21 - MiG-15 from a North Korean Defector
HQ. FEAF, TOKYO —- Pictured here is the Russian-built MIG-15 fighter interceptor which was flown to a U.S. Air Force base at Kimpo near Seoul Monday September 21, by a North Korean officer pilot, in a daring flight to freedom. The flier was interviewed by world-wide press media representatives Tuesday, September 22. The MIG-15 is being studied by U.S. Air Force authorities. ca. 09/22/1953
60 years ago on September 21, 1953, North Korean pilot No Kum-Sok defected to South Korea with this MIG-15 aircraft. He later received a $100,000 reward for his actions under “Operation Moolah,” an initiative by the U.S. Air Force to obtain and study Soviet fighter technology.
POWs (recently repatriated in the UN POW exchange) pose for a group photograph with their flight nurses at Tachikawa Air Base, Japan. 09/05/1953. They are proudly displaying the American flag which was hand made by them during their long imprisonment at a Communist POW camp. Officer shown kneeling in front of the group is identified as Maj. David F. Macghee, 137 El Central St., Moorestown, N.J. Maj. Macghee, a B-29 pilot of the 371st Bomb Sqd., was captured on 10 November 1950 after his plane was shot down by flak and MIGs. His B-29 was the first B-29 to be shot down in the Korean conflict.
An Agreement Between the Commander-in-Chief United Nations Command and the Supreme Commander of the Korean People’s Army and the Commander of the Chinese People’s Volunteers Concerning a Military Armistice in Korea, 07/27/1953
The Korean War, which began on June 25, 1950, when the North Koreans invaded South Korea, officially ended with this armistice signed on July 27, 1953.
At 10 a.m., in Panmunjom, scarcely acknowledging each other, U.S. Army Lt. Gen. William K. Harrison, Jr., senior delegate, United Nations Command Delegation; North Korean Gen. Nam Il, senior delegate, Delegation of the Korean People’s Army and the Chinese People’s Volunteers, signed 18 official copies of the tri-language Korean Armistice Agreement.
It was the end of the longest negotiated armistice in history: 158 meetings spread over two years and 17 days. That evening at 10 p.m. the truce went into effect. The Korean Armistice Agreement is somewhat exceptional in that it is purely a military document—no nation is a signatory to the agreement. Specifically the Armistice Agreement:
- suspended open hostilities;
- withdrew all military forces and equipment from a 4,000-meter-wide zone, establishing the Demilitarized Zone as a buffer between the forces;
- prevented both sides from entering the air, ground, or sea areas under control of the other;
- arranged release and repatriation of prisoners of war and displaced persons; and
- established the Military Armistice Commission (MAC) and other agencies to discuss any violations and to ensure adherence to the truce terms.
The armistice, while it stopped hostilities, was not a permanent peace treaty between nations.
President Eisenhower, who was keenly aware of the 1.8 million American men and women who had served in Korea and the 36,576 Americans who had died there, played a key role in bringing about a cease-fire. In announcing the agreement to the American people in a television address shortly after the signing, he said, in part,
"Soldiers, sailors and airmen of sixteen different countries have stood as partners beside us throughout these long and bitter months. In this struggle we have seen the United Nations meet the challenge of aggression—not with pathetic words of protest, but with deeds of decisive purpose. And so at long last the carnage of war is to cease and the negotiation of the conference table is to begin… . [We hope that] all nations may come to see the wisdom of composing differences in this fashion before, rather than after, there is resort to brutal and futile battle.
Now as we strive to bring about that wisdom, there is, in this moment of sober satisfaction, one thought that must discipline our emotions and steady our resolution. It is this: We have won an armistice on a single battleground—not peace in the world. We may not now relax our guard nor cease our quest.”
President Eisenhower concluded his announcement by quoting from Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address.
via Our Documents
"Clasping his wife tightly in his arms, aboard a Combat Cargo C-124 "Globemaster" just after it landed near Tokyo, Capt. Zach W. Dean of El Dorado, Kan., the third U.S. Air Force repatriate returned by the Communists, finishes the first leg of his long trip back from a Red prison camp. Captain Dean, a former F-51 Mustang pilot with the 35th Fighter-Interceptor Wing, was shot down on April 22, 1951 and captured. He was flown to Japan aboard a 374th Troop Carrier Wing transport plane, Monday, April 27, 1953, where his wife, A Red Cross worker in Tokyo for the past two years, was waiting to meet him. With Captain Dean on the huge plane were 16 other repatriates, six of whom were litter cases and 10 ambulatory patients."
Truman to MacArthur: “You’re Fired”
Proposed Orders and Statement on Dismissal of General Douglas MacArthur.
On April 11, 1951, President Truman dismissed General Douglas MacArthur as commander of United Nations forces in Korea due to insubordination, following several incidents in which MacArthur publicly criticized the Commander-in-Chief.
Formerly classified “Top Secret,” this document consists of orders from President Truman relieving General MacArthur of his commands and designating General Matthew Ridgway as his successor, along with a statement explaining MacArthur’s dismissal.
Read more at Prologue: You’re Fired