Millenium countdown: 1950
Paper: Nevada Appeal – 49 days to the millennium – Tuesday, Dec. 12, 1950
Editor and Publisher: George H. Payne
Managing Editor: Peter T. Kelley
Business Manager: George M. Payne
Published daily except Saturday and Sunday at 110 W. Telegraph St.
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Experience in Korean conflict brutal, primitive
By Kelli Du Fresne
The police action, best known 49 years later as the Korean War, is only six months old when the Dec. 12, 1950, edition of the Nevada Appeal went to press.
This first foray into international affairs by the United Nations would last until July 27, 1953, and cost more than 2 million lives.
On Dec. 12, 1950, talks of cease fires are in the news, yet it will be more than three years before peace is realized.
This editorial by Peter T. Kelley shows the paper’s and very likely the community’s view of the Korean War.
Under the headline “Korean tragedy” Kelley wrote: The military situation in Korea which only two weeks ago was bright with the promise of early victory has been tragically transformed by the smashing offensive of a formidable Chinese army.
The seriousness of the reverses and of the crisis they have the American Korean troops have been dealt deadly blows. Recent gains have been sacrificed and United Nations forces all along the line are desperately on the defensive. Losses have been heavy and the future is fraught with danger.
If they are sensitive to their own peril, the American people will be jolted out of their confidence and complacency by the drama along the Manchurian border – a drama in which young Americans are enduring the agonies of war in a bleak and bitter land and are dying in great numbers.
They will realize at least that this war is not a remote abstraction, an occurrence which allows life to continue along normal lines with all the sacrifices being borne by the men who must come to grips with a ruthless enemy along the Manchurian border.
This war is no longer a war against North Korean Communists. Red China, whose intentions were for a time obscure and mystifying, has shown its hand in the strong counter-offensive by an army of a million men, by its unprovoked entrance into a war in which it has no legitimate interest.
We are accordingly at war with Red China and at least potentially with Soviet Russia, which calls the tune for its puppets and lends what support it can while continuing to engage in its hypocritical pretensions toward peace.
In the light of this new and grim situation, the United States government and the American people must appraise the Korean situation with greater realism. The war is an extraneous business to be given consideration when there are less urgent matters at home.
The national effort must be geared to the demands of a challenge which involves survival, and the United Nations must come forward with something more substantial than the token aid which its members have given up to now.
Kelley’s editorial is reminiscent of the Cold War that waged from World War I until Nov. 9, 1989, with the peaceful fall of the Berlin Wall. Constructed in 1961, the wall’s destruction marked the end of the Cold War.
Other articles from the Dec. 12, 1950, Appeal talked of cease fires and the end of the war. However, the war raged for two years while peace talks reached impasse after impasse.
The headlines read “War in Korea Stands Still, Cease fire plan being formulated” and the report said: LAKE SUCCESS, N.Y. – A proposal to appoint a three-member United Nations commission to arrange a cease-fire in Korea was laid before the UN by 13 Arab and Asiatic nations today, and the United States announced it would support the plan.
Chief U.S. Delegate Warren R. Austin told the general assembly’s political committee that the cease-fire should be achieved as a first step “before other steps are attempted.”
This was a reference to companion resolution in which 12 Arab and Asiatic nations proposed a big power conference to include communist China, the US and Russia to consider a peaceful settlement of the Far Eastern crisis.
Other headlines said: “Chinese Communist attacks halted on fronts.”
TOKYO – Chinese communist attacks against United Nations forces in Korea halted Tuesday amid an allied security blackout that prohibited any report on the movements or intentions of UN forces.
The war stood still on both fronts, the 14th day without a major Chinese communist contact in the U.S. 8th army’s western sector and the second day in the U.S. 10th corps’ eastern sector.
But the communists were on the move bolstered by two Mongolian cavalry divisions which brought to 27 divisions – more than 300,000 men – the number of Reds massed opposite 160,000 United Nations troops. The Reds have another 700,000 Chinese in reserve.
The bulk of these forces last was reported veering toward central Korea for an apparent drive to outflank the new United Nations defense line guarding Seoul.
Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s headquarters clamped a security blackout on the movement and intentions of UN forces, indicating that perhaps a major redeployment of forces in Korea is in prospect or already may be underway.
Through it all Carson City resident Arnold Wetzstein endured the freezing cold winters and the mosquito-filled summers of central Korea.
Soldiers headed for Korea were trained at Stead Air Force Base, which is located north of Reno.
Here they were taught to survive in harsh climates if their planes were shot down in remote areas. Nevada’s mountains and desert were ideal training grounds.
Farther south, Nellis Air Force Base was also a hub of activity. Used for training fighter pilots in Thunderbirds, Thunderchiefs, Super Sabers ad Sabrejets “the home of the fighter pilot” trained most of the fighter pilots who flew in Korea, said James Hulse in “The Nevada Adventure.”
Wetzstein, served 10 years in the navy during WWII as a marine engineer. However, he arrived in the second week of the Korean conflict as an army infantryman.
“The first few weeks was really hard for the U.S. We entered Korea without any assistance. We were there alone for the first six to eight months until the U.N. effort got there. We were outnumbered 10 to one and our casualties were very high,” Wetzstein said. “I was there two weeks after it broke through ’53, 28 months.”
Though Korea was one of the bloodiest wars in history, Wetzstein for more than two years, tramped through Korea as an infantry man without being wounded.
“All we could do was to hold on to the Pusan Peninsula,” he said. “All the divisions were understrength when the war broke out. I served with the 1st cavalry 15th quartermaster company. Our job was to deploy troops. We just kept shifting troops back and forth like a game of checkers almost. They’d break through in on e place and we’d shift. Then they’d break through somewhere else and we move. At one time we were completely surrounded. Thank God we broke through and got out or I’d have been a prisoner of war I guess.”
Wetzstein said war in Korea was much different from war in Europe.
“Korea was poor. Their main crop was rice, the people lived in grass huts and it was nothing like the U.S. in comparison. Their streets, utilities were way behind. Behind Japan even. Today, it’s been Americanized. They have factories and even make a car now. Christianity has also gone into the Korean theater.
Gardnerville resident Morris Canter is a Korean veteran, but like many others served elsewhere during the war.
“I was lucky,” he said.
Canter was stationed in Guam during the conflict he never set foot on Korean soil.
“I was a carburetor specialist on B-36 bombers,” he said. “They weren’t used in the Korean conflict.”
Canter served as an aircraft mechanic for the U.S. Air Force from 1952 until 1956.
Canter said after the war he “got married.”
Canter has served as the mail man for Harvey’s Resort at Lake Tahoe since he moved to the Carson Valley in 1969.