HELENA — It was June 25th, 1950, when North Korea invaded South Korea.
The Korean War is sometimes referred to as the Forgotten War, falling between World War II and the Vietnam War. Men who are part of the Silent Generation, those born between 1928 and 1945, helped fight the war.
Helena resident Jim Heffernan, a United States Marine Corps veteran, says during the 1950s there was pride in the American spirit that he says can be lacking in our culture today.
“Families talk about the pride of being an American, they talk about the past history of being in America, the different wars. The war of 1812, 1776. The important stuff, right here... That, hey, freedom is not free, we will take care of our own."
It was that patriotic spirit that prompted Jim Crawford, a United States Army Veteran, to enlist in the Army when he was 17-years-old.
His mother had to give him permission to enlist.
At almost 90, Crawford says he finds it unreal to think of a young man being sent to war at such a tender age.
The U.S recorded approximately 140,000 people killed, wounded or missing in action during the Korean War. More than 4,200 of those casualties were Marines.
Some of those Marines patrolled along next to Heffernan, who worked with a police company, marking the barrier between North and South Korea.
“To see some of your buddies, blown up in front of you, on patrol or something else,” he said.
Crawford reflected on arriving in Korea, “We went in at that Inch'ŏn landing, over on the side of a ship. And as I told him before, I don’t ever recall having any training for that, so spooky. So you know, going over the side of that landing craft and made our way to Seoul.”
Crawford also remembers having to walk everywhere as a soldier. He also recalled the Christmas cards and pranks that lightened the service member's spirits.