Korean War Last Man's Club remembers departed comrades
MICHAEL A. HEERY/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Preparing for the special toasts offered during the Shoemaker-Haydt Lehighton American Legion Post 314 Korean War Last Man's Club Annual Dinner on Saturday, left to right, are Carlos Teets, who offered the "Toast to the Living;" Mahlon Shaffer, who presented the "Toast to the Dead;" and Bob Berger, club president.
Each year on the Saturday closest to June 25, the Shoemaker-Haydt Lehighton American Legion Post 314 Korean War Last Man's Club gathers for a special dinner. Members came together this year for the 47th annual event.
"We're a group who gets together annually for camaraderie and to pay tribute to our deceased," said Bob Berger, president of the Korean War Last Man's Club.
At the dinner, Carlos Teets offered the "Toast to the Living." The "Toast to the Dead" was presented by Mahlon Shaffer. Guest speaker was Henry Desrosiers, director of Carbon County Veterans Affairs.
The Korean War was fought between the Republic of Korea (South Korea), supported by the United Nations, and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea), at one time supported by the People's Republic of China and the Soviet Union.
It officially started 63 years ago to the day of the Last Man's gathering on June 25, 1950 when North Korea crossed the 38th Parallel invading South Korea.
Shortly after, the United States and other countries passed a United Nations Security Council resolution authorizing military intervention in Korea. The United States of America provided 88 percent of the 341,000 international soldiers, which aided South Korean forces in repelling the invasion with 20 other countries of the United Nations offering assistance.
The fighting ended on July 27, 1953 when a peace treaty was signed at Panmunjom. The agreement restored the border between the Koreas near the 38th Parallel and created the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) a 2.5 mile-wide fortified buffer zone between the two Korean nations.
According to data from the U.S. Department of Defense, the United States suffered 33,686 battle deaths as well as 2,830 nonbattle deaths during the Korean War. There are 8,176 missing in action.
Since the Shoemaker-Haydt Lehighton American Legion Post 314 Korean War Last Man's Club organized on March 21, 1966, 96 members have departed from this world.