gettyimages 823282136 Korean War veterans speak about recent hostile rhetoric

Veterans attend the ceremony to commemorate the 64th Anniversary of the Korean War armistice agreement on July 27, 2017 in Seoul, South Korea. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

By Caitlin M. Kenney

A war of words between the President of the United States, Donald Trump, and North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, recently escalated to the point that North Korea threatened to fire ballistic missiles near Guam, a territory of the United States.

The Korean War ended in an armistice in 1953 after three years of fighting. The war claimed the lives of 54,246 Americans—33,739 of whom died in combat.

Veterans from the Korean War had this to say about the recent events:

James Gray, a U.S. Army veteran who served as an infantryman in the Korean War in 1952-1953, said he was troubled by the news.

“When you’re talking nuclear missiles, it’s something to be concerned about. You don’t know how to take this guy, whether he’s serious or just bluffing, you know,” he said.

When asked how he would want issues between the two countries to be resolved, Gray said he wasn’t in a position to say but that “diplomacy is the key.”

Having another conflict on the peninsula is “the last thing I would want to see,” Gray said.

Gray said that it seems that North Korea is “looking for some kind of recognition or respect. And I don’t know if he’s just doing this just to make sure to say hey look I’m here too. Or if he’s really serious.”

“It’s just one nation against the world, so he wouldn’t have much of a chance. And in a nuclear war there’s no winner,” he added.

Col. Warren Wiedhahn, a retired United States Marine Corps veteran, fought in the famous Battle of the Chosin Reservoir in 1950 as a private first class infantryman serving with a mortar outfit.

“I’ve been following this obviously for over 50 years and they’ve done this before,” he said. “They continue to bluster, they continue to rattle swords. So it kind of leaves us old veterans with what’s more coming, it’s more of the same.”

While veterans of the Korean War take such talk seriously, they are also, Wiedhahn said, “very confident in our administration, we are very confident in our military, we are very confident of the South Korean ability to absorb any attack that they make and retaliate.”

Wiedhahn said that while he was concerned about the threat to Guam, but he saw it as North Korean’s blustering. He liked Secretary of Defense James Mattis’ response to the situation.

“When he said you attack Guam, we’ll attack you, or words to that effect. So it’s interesting to note that Kim Jung-un has in fact quasi-back off of attacking Guam,” he said. “And I think that the alert or the warning from Mattis had an effect.”

Wiedhahn said that North Korea knows that if they actually go through with what they have been saying, they “will be no more.”

“Now, will there be bloodshed in South Korea if this happens? Obviously. But we have to stop this monster and I like the way the administration is doing it,” he added.

War is hell, said Wiedhahn, who also served in Vietnam, adding that “No Soldier, Sailor, or Airman or Marine, whoever served in combat, wants to see it again, period.”

Connect: @CaitlinMKenney |

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