Local Korean War veterans honored at VFW luncheon

A luncheon Friday ensured that the service of a small group of local veterans of “The Forgotten War” were remembered.

Korean War veterans from across Spartanburg County were recognized for their service during a Veterans Day luncheon at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9539 in Spartanburg.

“I just wanted to make sure our veterans aren’t forgotten,” said Clary Sprouse, a local veteran who organized the event. “It may have been ‘The Forgotten War,’ but our veterans will never be forgotten.”

The eight veterans were surrounded by vets from other wars along with family and friends Friday afternoon.

Many wore their uniforms. They ate and talked together after a short program, swapping stories about service, country and grandchildren.

“I gladly went to Korea, I had no hesitation,” said Clary Smith, Sprouse’s cousin and grand marshal of the 2017 Veterans Day parade in downtown Spartanburg.

Smith and the seven other veterans were awarded certificates from the office of U.S. Sen. Tim Scott along with medals and Korea Veteran hats to commemorate their service.

Sprouse said a similar event was held around Veterans Day for World War II vets last year. He decided to organize a recognition of Korean War veterans after speaking to Smith.

“I’m a dedicated veteran myself, and I decided this year we should do something for our Korean War guys,” he said.

John Threadgill Jr. served in the U.S. Army from 1955 until 1976, serving tours in both the Korean and Vietnam wars.

He earned a Purple Heart for his service.

Threadgill remembered the difference in views on the Korean and Vietnam wars. After returning home from Vietnam, the treatment soldiers got was much different as a large portion of the U.S. public turned against the fight.

“I was told to get in civilian clothes as soon as possible when I got home (from Vietnam),” he said.

Threadgill, Smith, Sprouse and the other veterans said if they had to do it all again, they would. The men were all proud of their service and honored to have been recognized, Threadgill said.

“It (the Korean War) did get forgotten for a lot of years. It seemed like it kind of fizzled after it was over, but this was a great ceremony. It was an honor,” he said.