Korean performers to honor local veterans ;

19 Jan 2000 | Sgt. Will Price

When Al Silvano lay face down on the frozen North Korean tundra surrounded by Chinese soldiers looking to kill him, he must have thought he would never see his family back in Maryland again. Facing insurmountable odds and nearly freezing to death he had covered himself with the corpse of an enemy soldier for both cover and warmth. Then he closed his eyes and prayed. Fifty years later on the golden anniversary of the Korean War, Al Silvano, now the Region IV Commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, has teamed up with Dr. Sungkyu Cho, a founder of the Korean American Cultural Foundation and a member of the Korean Military Order of the Purple Heart to bring "Winter Tour 2001 from Korea" to Southeast America. The Winter Tour 2001 from Korea begins Jan. 30 in Talahassee, Fla., culminating with its grand finale Feb. 9 at the Air Station. The performance, which kicks off at the base theatre at 5 p.m., is free and open to the public. The 90-member troupe of Korean dancers, martial artists musicians, and craftsmen will honor the men and women of the U.S. Armed Services who served in the Korean War by awarding the veterans the Korean Freedom Medallion. According to Silvano, the medallion is an award from the people of Korea to express their thanks for suppressing communist aggression and allowing them to live in a free democratic society. "South Korea is profoundly indebted to the veterans of the Korean War," said Cho. "Time is limited and our wish is to pass down to our students that understanding of our indebtedness and express our special thanks to America." After the medallion ceremony, the troupe will perform dances varying from modern to traditional, followed by a demonstration of Korean swordsmanship and percussion music. A banquet for the dignitaries and honorees will follow at the Officer's Club Dining Room and Ball Room. Although the dinner is by invitation only, all are welcome to visit the display of Korean art in the 'O' Club's Fireside Room. "As times moves on, people forget, no one can help that," said Silvano. "But it is crucial that the families of those who made the ultimate sacrifice understand that there are those who will never forget their heroism." All veterans present at the event will be honored, but due to a limited number of medallions priority will be given to the families of veterans either killed- or missing-in-action. If there is a shortage, any Korean War veteran wanting a medal can apply for one at a later date. In order to participate and receive a medallion, combat wounded veterans should send their DD-214 form to Bill Carlson, 16 Sunrise Blvd, Beaufort, S.C. 29902. All others should send their DD-214 form to Ben Washington, Director of Veterans Affairs, 1905 Duke St., Beaufort, S.C. 29902. All forms should be sent by Jan. 31. To help support the tour, the MOPH is asking for host families for the 65 students in the performance. Anyone interested in helping should contact Al Silvano at (843) 521-1517.