With support from the University of Richmond

History News Network

History News Network puts current events into historical perspective. Subscribe to our newsletter for new perspectives on the ways history continues to resonate in the present. Explore our archive of thousands of original op-eds and curated stories from around the web. Join us to learn more about the past, now.

Hundreds of Errors in Korean War Memorial Wall

An arc of gleaming black granite slabs etched with 36,634 names was unveiled on the National Mall over the summer, built to honor American service members who died fighting in the Korean War.

People like Frederick Bald Eagle Bear, an Army corporal who was killed as he rallied his infantry squad to fend off an enemy attack. And Walder McCord, a bomber pilot who crashed during a night mission. And John Koelsch, a helicopter pilot who was shot down trying to rescue another pilot, died in captivity and was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

But Lieutenant Koelsch’s name is spelled wrong, Lieutenant McCord’s name is not on the wall at all, and the name of Frederick Bald Eagle Bear, a member of the Lakota tribe, is so mangled that the polished granite lists him as Eagle B F Bald.

There are hundreds more mistakes like those.

“It’s just a damn mess — full of old bookkeeping errors and typos,” said Hal Barker, a historian who, together with his brother, Edward Barker Jr., maintains a vast online repository of information about the conflict, a trove known as the Korean War Project.

The brothers estimate that the $22 million wall of remembrance — an addition to the 27-year-old Korean War Veterans Memorial — contains 1,015 spelling errors. It also incorrectly includes 245 names of service members who died in circumstances totally unrelated to the war, they say, including a man killed in a motorcycle accident in Hawaii and another who drank antifreeze thinking it was alcohol. And it includes one Marine who lived for 60 years after the war and had eight grandchildren.

Beyond that, there are about 500 names that should be listed but are not, according to the Barkers. They say that the official roster used for the wall was so slapdash that they cannot find much rhyme or reason to who was included and who was left out.

Read entire article at New York Times