Region vets want people to remember 'forgotten war'

2013-07-20T23:30:00Z 2013-11-08T11:44:28Z Region vets want people to remember 'forgotten war'By Christine Kraly (219) 933-4195 christine.kraly@nwi.com nwitimes.com

David Seils sat back in the chair of his Dyer home and closed his eyes, as if willing his memories to surface.

He remembers the cold.  

In November 1950, Seils, a Marine Corps reservist rifleman, marched through frigid weather and fought at the Chosin Reservoir, the site of one of the Korean War's bloodiest battles.

The 84-year-old Chicago native is among the survivors referred to as the "Chosin Few."

"No matter how good your training is ... you get out by the grace of God," Seils said.

Sometimes referred to as the "forgotten war," the conflict in Korea began in 1950 and ran until July 27, 1953, when a peace armistice was signed. Next week marks the 60th anniversary of the cease-fire.

The war took the lives of 54,246 Americans, 936 of whom were Hoosiers, according to the Indiana War Memorials Commission. 

Luis Aguilera, commander of Hammond's Korean War Veterans Association, said Korean vets have gained appreciation and recognition, but it wasn't always so.

"We didn't make enough noise as a whole. Now, I think we are," Aguilera said. "Now we can't scream too loud; we're too old," the 83-year-old said with a laugh. 

Opening up

Stanley Regelman never talked about Korea, his wife, Marilyn Regelman said. 

"I can remember him saying, 'You don't want to hear about it,'" the Munster resident said.

He didn't like to talk about bad things, she said of her husband, who died in 1990 at age 57. It wasn't in his nature. 

He did what he could to avert drama from his time as an Army forward observer. He told Marilyn never to wake him suddenly, or "he would come out fighting," she said.

"He would wake up shaking," at times, she said. He never talked about why.

A wartime letter Regelman wrote to a friend revealed he narrowly survived a grenade attack on his 461st Infantry unit.

For Aguilera, even decades together as co-workers didn't spur discussion. He worked at then-Inland Steel with another Korean vet for nearly 30 years, and never swapped tales.

"We never spoke about Korea at all. Never," he said. "We just went our own ways." 

But inside the walls of American Legion posts and VFW halls, Aguilera said, he and other vets found understanding.

"We got to a legion and started talking," he said. 

Not forgetting

Seils and his wife, Letitia, were married July 1, 1950. Two months later, he left for Korea as a 21-year-old.

While overseas, Seils bought his new bride a pair of silk pajamas from Japan.

"I don't think she ever wore them, they were so nice," he said.

Seils opined why Korea arguably didn't receive the fanfare of other wars.

Maybe it was because many men came home from Korea in small groups and there was no declared "winner," he said. Maybe it was because the Korean War wasn't a television star like the wars that followed it, he suggested.

It plays the star in what Seils lovingly calls "the museum," a small bedroom in his house filled with everything from an original Marine recruiting poster to his dog tags.

Sitting in a room where medals hang on one wall and next to a bookshelf home to his Purple Heart, Seils said, "It doesn't seem like it's forgotten."

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