Southern Utah Memorial Salutes Veterans of the Korean War

By Nancy Perkins

Deseret News

CEDAR CITY — EvaDean Reeves
Francisco was about 22 years old in 1952 when she got the news that her
happy-go-lucky brother Thiel would not be coming home from the war in Korea.

“Mom never did believe
he was really gone. She would say, ‘I wonder where my boy is? Only God and his
angels can take care of him now,”‘ said Francisco. “I saw my mother
go from a beautiful brunette to having all gray hair in just two weeks.”

USAF 1st Lt. Thiel M.
Reeves, then nearly 25, flew jet fighters during the Korean conflict. It was
the perfect job for an adventurous boy who grew up spending his hard-earned
cash on model airplanes only to set them on fire and throw them off the roof of
his house to watch them crash and burn.

“We always used to
tease him over that,” said Francisco. “He loved adventure. The higher
he went, the better.”

On Jan. 11, 1952, Reeves
was flying a mission over North Korea when his own jet was hit by enemy fire.
He remains the only soldier from Cedar City listed as missing in action,
joining more than 8,000 other Americans still listed as MIA’s from the Korean
War.

Francisco recalls her big
brother as a fun boy who loved to test his own limits.

“Thiel was a very fun
loving kid. He used to come home from school and ride his bike out to the
airport,” she said. “Thiel got his pilot’s license before he got his
driver’s license. I always said if he’d of come home, he would have been the
first astronaut on the moon.”

Francisco, who lives now in
Tropic, was in Cedar City on Saturday with another brother, W. Golden Reeves,
and three daughters for the dedication of the new Korean War Memorial at the
Rotary Centennial Veterans Park.

Several hundred people
attended the event including more than two dozen Korean War veterans, South
Korean Deputy Consul General Sung W. Shin, retired military brass from every
service, and many Korean nationals. A contingency of Patriot Guard Riders
escorted veterans to the park for the dedication ceremony.

Central to the Korean War
Memorial is a 7-foot-tall bronze soldier sculpted by Jerime Hooley, who said
the statue represents the “humble gratitude and respect” the American
people hold for the nation’s veterans.

In a patriotic, two hour
long program preceding the dedication ceremony at the park, the Korean War
veterans in attendance were recognized with applause and words of thanks.

“It is my great honor
and privilege to be here in peaceful Cedar City,” said Shin, who added he
was glad the memorial would be located in “such a beautiful city.”

Shin reminded the audience
that American soldiers fought alongside South Korean soldiers during the war.

“The Korean war is
sometimes called the forgotten war,” said Shin. “This is simply not
true. The Korean government will never forget your dedication, sacrifices and
suffering on behalf of the Republic of Korea.”

Shin said the presence of
27,000 American troops on the Korean peninsula is “essential” to
maintain a “strong, robust democracy” in South Korea.

“We hope that 80
million Koreans living in South and North Korea will become one in the near
future,” he said. “For that to happen permanent peace must be brought
about and North Korea’s nuclear program must be eliminated completely.”

U.S. Army Maj. James Miller
thanked his Korean guests for coming to southern Utah, noting he had been
deployed to Korea 24 times during his career.

“The fabric of our
nation is held together with a lot of interesting threads,” said Miller.
“Service in the military is one of those threads that binds us
together.”

At the memorial park,
Korean native Sunny Lee paid her respects to the veterans and families
attending the event.

“Today is a very
special day in my life. I was born right before the end of the Korean War and
grew up in the post-war period,” said Lee, who wore a traditional Korean
dress. “My parents told me stories about the American soldiers and what
they did for our people. I grew up wondering who these great soldiers were. My
questions have been answered. You are the ones who dedicated your lives to save
my beloved country.”

Memories of the 213th
Armored Field Artillery Battalion, headquartered in Cedar City, were shared
through a short documentary produced at Southern Utah University. The unit sent
600 men to Korea and none failed to return.

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