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Posted on Jul 25, 2004 in History News

WebWarrior: The Korean War Educator

Jim H. Moreno

6. Where do you live? Are there any military historical sites nearby (battlefields, museums, etc)?

 

I live in Tuscola, Illinois. The Douglas County Museum has an extensive World War II collection, but it is not always on view. As the director of the museum, I am proud to say that I have been heavily involved in amassing that collection for the museum. The museum established a traveling program to the schools called "East Central Illinois on the Home Front." It is a footlocker filled with World War II home front items such as sheet music, magazines, window star, payroll stubs from war plants, bonds, photographs, and more. It travels to area schools to teach young people about the sacrifices at home that were associated with the war years. Tuscola is the county seat of Douglas County, but it is a small town. The local courthouse has a small, seldom-open Civil War room. The Ernie Pyle museum is located about an hour east of Tuscola on Rt. 36. About an hour to the west is Springfield. The Illinois state capital has a number of military-related facilities.

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7. Why do you study military history?

 

I love to study local history. I study Korean War history because I have found the subject to be absolutely fascinating. I can’t say that I am an "expert" on the Korean War yet, but I am very, very knowledgeable about its veterans and what they had to endure to survive Korea. People call the Korean War "The Forgotten War." That is a misnomer. It is not "The Forgotten War." It is "The Unknown War." It isn’t studied in the school systems, and the veterans themselves don’t talk about it very much, if at all. Korean War veterans think that nobody in the next generation cares about them. That’s not true. It’s not that those in the next generation don’t care. It’s that they don’t know. Don’t know what happened in Korea. Don’t know what questions to ask to find out. I once read in a military newsletter that a contemporary high school history textbook’s only mention of the Korean War was that, "The Korean Conflict ended when America dropped an atomic bomb on Korea." The minute I hear someone refer to the Korean War as a "conflict", I know they don’t know anything about the Korean War. It was not a "conflict". It was one bloody, miserable WAR. Furthermore, I fume at the thought that some uninformed whippersnapper of a textbook author has now altered history by saying America dropped a bomb on Korea to end the war. We most assuredly did not drop a bomb on Korea, and the Korean War is most assuredly not officially "over".

 

8. In what specific ways does the computer help you with your study of military history? Does your site strive to be that help to others interested in military history?

 

The KWE uses the computer in many ways to accomplish its educational mission. Besides offering pages upon pages of reading material (the KWE is one of the world’s largest military websites), we also offer a Buddy Search. This search is designed to help buddies find buddies, relatives of deceased Korean War veterans, and researchers. I also utilize the computer to find Korean War veterans who are willing to talk about their Korean War experiences. Not all of them are willing to talk, but when approached the right way, many of them will. When I first started interviewing veterans, it was always by in-person interviews, usually at veteran reunions. I sat opposite of the veteran and asked questions and answers with the use of a tape recorder. I still do that whenever an opportunity arises. Now however, using the computer, I can do interviews online. I send sets of questions to a Korean War veteran, and then he or she sends back answers.

Based on those answers, I ask more questions. In seesaw fashion, an interview is conducted through cyberspace. The significance of this is that I can reach out to veterans who are not able to travel for an interview, either for health or financial reasons. This means that the Korean War Educator’s oral history project is not geographical-bound to one area of the country. It provides an excellent overall picture of who America’s Korean War veterans were in more ways than one.

 

9. What are some stats about your website? (How many hits per day do you get, how many people do you have writing articles there, how many people are active in your message board, what specific topic of military history do most people seem to be interested in)?

 

The Korean War Educator has on the average about 6,500 visitors per month. In June of this year, KWE visitors viewed 42,205 pages on the website. It is on most major search engines, and it is linked to dozens of other websites.

I am the one and only text editor for the Korean War Educator. A number of veterans have contributed unit histories and other documents to me, and I re-type and post them on the KWE. Two years ago, North Koreans got on the KWE and put a couple of nasty notes in our Guestbook. Since then, we’ve fixed it so that the only way text appears on the site is through me. The KWE is anti-communist, and won’t tolerate wisecracks about American veterans on the Guestbook or anywhere else. You won’t see any sales pitches on our guestbook, either!  While it’s true that I AM basically the sole author on the Korean War Educator, it is equally true that the KWE is "about, by, and for" Korean War veterans. I think that it is a remarkable website because the veterans it represents are remarkable people.

 

10. What work are you currently doing in your site (military historical and/or computerly)? What do you hope to bring to your site in the future?

 

Nearly each week, the Korean War Educator’s "What’s New" page reflects the current happenings on the KWE (http://www.koreanwar-educator.org/whatsnew.htm). It tells about new memoirs soon to go up on the site, as well as what new Korean War-related material has just been or is just about to be posted. Posting Korean War veterans’ memoirs is a priority for the Korean War Educator. I am also keenly interested in the home front (what there was of it) during the Korean War. Readers can expect to see more there in the upcoming months.  Jim, my talented webmaster, is not only inserting pictures and cleaning up the look of new materials that I add, he also continues to revamp the templates of the KWE behind the scenes, moving the "old site" over to the "new site."  He is taking the professionalism that Ron Janowski brought to the KWE
several steps further.  Jim maintains a number of websites, but the Korean War Educator is probably the largest of them all.

Jim, I am adding a #11 & #12 here, because I think they are important. (Be my guest, ma’am! – Jim)

 

11. How is the KWE funded?

 

For as large as it is, the Korean War Educator website has taken its place on the WWW with very little money. The KWE Foundation has a general operating fund and an Endowment Fund. The general operating fund has less than $300.00. I am often a guest speaker about the subject of the Korean War, and sometimes receive small cash contributions to further the website’s work. First "large" cash gifts for the KWE came from 1/7 and H-3-7 Marines. This was followed by a $5,000 grant from the McCormick-Tribune Foundation last year. The KWE pays its web hosting fees and other incidentals through $10 annual memberships. The Endowment Fund has just under $1,000 in it. That money comes from Life Membership dues. When someone becomes a life member of the KWE, $50 goes into the General Operating Fund and $50 goes into the Endowment to perpetuate the website after Korean War veterans and I are long gone from this earth. Again, no one associated with the KWE gets salary money. Hopefully, in the months ahead I can find another funding source to help give Jim Doppelhammer some money for his web work. That man has gone "above and beyond the call of duty" to help me make the KWE possible.

 

12. This is not a question. This is a fact.

 

The KWE is not above controversy. Ironically, many of the leaders of the nation’s largest and wealthiest Korean War veterans organization, the Korean War Veterans Association (KWVA), is at loggerheads with the KWE. When its leaders began to conduct business in a less-than-honorable manner, the KWE exposed its illegally sitting president and those persons on the board who were following his unethical lead.

The KWE posted documented evidence about everything from illegal bylaws changes to fraudulent photographs published in the KWVA newsletter to unethical electioneering tactics. As a result, the illegal president declared a "state of emergency", bypassed the bylaws rules on removal of members, and tried to expel me (twice–once by "executive order" and second by board vote) as an associate member of the KWVA. Furthermore, all advertising for the Korean War Educator was pulled from the KWVA magazine, The Graybeards. Over $500 of the McCormick-Tribune grant money, which was pre-paid to the KWVA for advertising, has never been returned to the KWE to date. All this because I dared to stand up for what is right for Korean War veterans.

The public posting of the controversial aspects of the KWVA’s current administration, along with a "Take Hill 2004" campaign led by some very determined members of the KWVA, resulted in a near clean sweep in this year’s national KWVA election.  The old regime is now out on its ear, thanks in part to the Korean War Educator’s willingness to face controversy and stand up and fight for the good of Korean War veterans.  New leaders, who have repeatedly expressed their appreciation for the Korean War Educator, take over the general operation of the KWVA at the end of this month.  Hooray!!

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Stay Alert, Stay Alive!

Jim H. Moreno

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