Korean War veterans remember the conflict decades later

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Sixty-two years ago on July 27, 1953, the United States and North Korea signed an agreement which halted the Korean War. During the war time, Americans fought for one goal: fighting the spread of international communism. Decades later, local veterans remember the Korean War vividly.

“That’s what we were over there for, to give them freedom from their oppression,” U.S. Army Veteran Billy Neal said.

At first, it seems like Neal knows exactly why his enlistment in the army led him to Korea, but as a young boy on the inchon invasion in September 1950, it wasn’t this clear.

“We were moving fast enough that by October we were on the Manchurin border and that’s where I had my 18th birthday,” Neal explained.

SFC. (Ret.) Sherman Cottrell also recalled the feeling of coming face-to-face with the North Korean enemy.

“While there we laid in mine fields out in front of our lines, we built roads right up to the front lines until the North Koreans would start sending artillery on us,” SFC. (Ret.) Sherman Cottrell said. “It was tough because you knew at any time you could get killed.”

On July 27, 1953, the United States and North Korea signed the Korean Armistice Agreement. For soldiers like Neal, it took much longer than a couple of years to understand his role in the Asian country.

“I asked myself a lot of times, what am I doing here, why am I here, but when I went back in 2012, I understood why I was there,” Neal said. “I didn’t recognize anything, not one solitary thing because the country has progressed so well.”

Through the shots fired, extreme weather and dangerous diseases, these men said they just did what they had to do.

” I don’t regret a minute going over there, in fact, I’d do it again,” SFC. (Ret.) Cottrell said.

The 10th Anniversary Lunchion honoring Korean War veterans is on July 30 from 11:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. at the Summit on Redstone Arsenal. The Legacy for Korean Veterans is honoring more than 45 local Korean War vets.

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