Remembered in Brevard

Veterans Day event recognizes locals who served in the Korean War

By: Pat Barcas

Author Michael McCarthy doesn’t want Korean War veterans to be forgotten.
Photo by Pat Barcas

A local man is launching his new book as part of a Veterans Day celebration hosted by the Veterans History Museum of the Carolinas in Brevard. Michael McCarthy is the author of The Forgotten War Remembered: Stories of Korean War Veterans in Their Own Words, which details the stories of nine veterans from Transylvania County.

Why was the Korean War called “The Forgotten War?”

Michael McCarthy: Americans were just getting over the sacrifices of WWII and wanted to get on with their lives. The Korean War got little press at the time. Korean War veterans were even denied their GI benefits at first, such as VA hospital privileges, because it was a “police action,” not a war declared by Congress.

What can modern citizens do to remember Korean War veterans and this war?

If you have Korean War veterans in your family or in your church or neighborhood, ask them about it. Thank them for their service. If they don’t want to talk about it, respect their privacy. Ask your relatives who are veterans if you can record their stories for a family history; there are free recording apps for smartphones that enable you to do this. You will be creating a priceless gift for your children and grandchildren. 

What inspired you to write your book?

My father, who performed convoy duty with the Coast Guard in WWII. I never asked him about his service until late in his life. My wife Janis [Allen] tells his story in her book [WWII Veterans of Western North Carolina: Their Stories in Their Own Words]. I am not a veteran myself, but I want to honor veterans who put their lives on the line for the rest of us.

If you could have readers walk away from your book with one idea to carry forward, what would it be?

Show respect to veterans who served to protect the rest of us. To paraphrase George Orwell, we sleep peacefully in our beds at night because they are willing to stand watch and fight to protect us.

L-R: Brothers Erby Bolt (U.S. Army) and J.D. Bolt (U.S. Army), Charles Holden (U.S. Navy), and John McJunkin (U.S. Army).
Photo by Pat Barcas

For people who are unaware of the Korean War, what would you like to tell them?

Sgt. Erby Bolt: I think the Korean War, of all the wars, was as fruitful as you could say. South Korea has turned out to be a real good country. A lot of the other countries that we’ve helped have failed. Some places you find you give up a lot, and it ends up being just the way it was. Not so here.

What did you learn while over there?

Sgt. J.D. Bolt: I learned a lot. I operated heavy equipment and enjoyed the job that I did. I’m thankful that I got through it and got back home without being wounded.

What’s a positive memory from your service?

Machinist’s Mate MM2 Charles Holden: We were on our way back to the States after the war when Hawaii got its statehood. We pulled in there the night before and that Saturday they were granted statehood. That was one big party weekend, and we couldn’t spend our money. Everything was all free for us.

What do you remember about your service?

Sgt. John McJunkin: I’ve never been so cold in my life. The M1 (Garand) is a lovely rifle, but in the snow and ice, the bolt would freeze and you’d have to kick it open. It got a lot of people killed because it froze and wouldn’t shoot. I didn’t know how cold it would be. After a few months, we had the best clothes money could buy. If we didn’t have that, we’d have froze to death.

Author Michael McCarthy will launch his book The Forgotten War Remembered: Stories of Korean War Veterans in Their Own Words on Thursday, Nov. 11, at 11:45am in the Transylvania Courthouse Gazebo in front of the Veterans History Museum (7 Main St., Brevard), following the Veterans Day Observance from 11-11:45am. For more information, see 

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