Dignitaries and survivors of the Korean War Battle of the Chosin Reservoir (also known in Korea as the Battle of Lake Jangjjn) gathered at Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery for the groundbreaking of a new “Chosin Few” Memorial by the Metroplex Military Charitable Trust and the North Texas Chapter of the Chosin Few. Prominent members of the Korean community helped raise funds for the memorial and attended the event.
Designed by Dallas sculptors Mark Austin Byrd and Jenelle Armstrong Byrd, the DFW Jangjin-Chosin Few Memorial will be a 12-foot-tall, polished black granite wall with engravings on both sides and is expected to be completed in Spring 2022.
The monument will tell the story of the important battle after the People’s Republic of China sent more than 100,000 troops to infiltrate the northeastern part of North Korea and trap the 18,000 UN forces, including U.S. Marines and Army soldiers, at the Chosin Reservoir (Lake Jangjin.) Survivors of the battle are known as the Chosin Few. The Battle of the Chosin Reservoir is considered by military historians to be one of the most significant battles in the history of the Marine Corps. From November 27 to December 13, 1950 the UN forces fought their way through an overwhelming force of Chinese soldiers in frigid temperatures as low as 36 degrees below Fahrenheit.
Low-relief bronze sculptures on the wall will depict portraits of 40 men who distinguished themselves in the battle. A paved plaza will provide an area for visitors and students who tour to reflect and discuss the battle. The memorial will be topped with a stainless-steel Star of Koto-Ri, based on a star the Marines saw shining through a blizzard the night before moving out. The star gave them hope the skies would clear so they could have air support the next day as they evacuated 100,000 Koreans in what is known as the “Christmas Miracle.”
One of the many interesting stories to come from the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir is the role of the Tootsie Roll. Outmanned and outgunned, the Marines radioed for an airdop of ammunition. Using the code name for their 60mm mortar rounds, they requested a resupply of “Tootsie Rolls.” Much to their surprise, when they received the airdrop, it was filled with tasty chocolate toffee candies rather than ammo. However, the candy turned out to be very useful because the Marines found that when warmed up it could plug bullet holes in vehicles, gas tanks and hoses. It was also a sweet reminder of home.
“We’ve been working for more than four years to get approvals and funding for the DFW Chosin Few Memorial,” said Sculptor Mark Austin Byrd, a Marine helicopter pilot in the Vietnam War who received the Distinguished Flying Cross. “We are focusing on portraits of individuals who made a significant impact in the battle, including the 17 Medal of Honor recipients.”
Dallas-based stone and masonry company Dee Brown Inc.? (DBI) is supplying the granite, stone materials and pavers, as well as the labor to build the monument. Childress Engineers? provided the architectural drawings and engineering for the project.
“It is an honor to help preserve the memory of these valiant men who fought so bravely and endured unimaginable hardships to preserve the freedom for South Korea,” said Robert V. “Rob” Barnes, III, CEO of Dee Brown Inc.
The groundbreaking was also an opportunity to celebrate the 94th birthday of Lieutenant General Richard E. Carey, USMC (Ret), of Plano who has been a tireless supporter of the project. LtGen Carey was a 22-year-old rifle platoon commander when he fought in Korea, including leading his men ashore at the Inchon Landing and fighting in the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir. LtGen Carey earned a Silver Star and Purple Heart Medals after being wounded in action later in the war. He also was awarded the Legion of Merit; the Distinguished Flying Cross; the Bronze Star Medal; the Air Medal and many other commendations.
“Had it not been for the brave men who fought through the most brutal conditions, South Korea would be under Communist rule today,” said LtGen Carey. “Even today, South Korea stands in the balance between the United States and China. But the brutal weather was an even more formidable enemy than the Communist forces. We lost many good men on that march to the sea.”
LtGen Carey was the Commanding General of the 9th Marine Amphibious Brigade in April 1975 when he led “Operation Frequent Wind”, the evacuation of Saigon, which brought out 120,000 South Vietnamese as Saigon fell to the NVA. LtGen Carey retired from the Marine Corps in March 1983. Since retiring, he has been active in veteran affairs. He was instrumental in getting the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery located here. LtGen Carey has been a key player in upgrading local VA medical facilities.
The Metroplex Military Charitable Trust is a 501(c)(3) charity and was started in 1990. Its mission is to provide economic support to local military personnel (regular, reserve and retired) and to military support charities and volunteer organizations. Its longest and largest effort has been to provide direct support to families of amputee, PTSD, and brain-injured OIF & OEF Vets as well as the Vets themselves through the North Texas VA Warrior Patient Shuttle service since September 2007. More info is available at metroplexmarines.org.
Founded in Dallas circa 1955, Dee Brown, Inc. is responsible for the masonry and stonework on iconic projects, including the American Airlines Center; Nasher Sculpture Center; George W. Bush Presidential Center; Old Red Courthouse; The Getty Center in Los Angeles; Meyerson Symphony Center; Houston Museum of Natural Science; Dallas Country Club; Hunt Oil Headquarters; Trammel Crow Center; AT&T Stadium and many others. More information about the company can be found at deebrowncompanies.com.