National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day

The Texas Veterans Land Board (VLB) salutes all those who served in the Korean War on this 69th anniversary of the National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day. This war never officially ended, but only has an armistice, or a truce, holding back the fighting from breaking out again. For that reason, the Korean peninsula is still severely fortified, with a demilitarized zone — or DMZ — separating North and South Korea.

While roughly 2 million men and women served in the Korean Theater from 1950–1953, about 40,000 died in this particular conflict and over 100,000 were wounded. At the end of the war, there were 11,500 American troops who were considered to be Missing in Action (MIA) or Prisoners of War (POW). Some of them have never been recovered or accounted for.

One notable Texan in the Korean War was Sergeant Clifford Petrey. He joined the Army in 1948, before he graduated from high school, and was originally stationed in Japan. In September 1950, he made the landing at Inchon with the Marines in the beginning of the Korean War. He was wounded in Seoul, but recovered after a blood transfusion aboard ship, then boarded a Japanese luxury liner to Pusan. He rejoined American troops and they fought their way to the Chosin Reservoir. It was -46 degrees, and unfortunately the American and South Vietnamese troops were still in summer gear.

Petrey was wounded again at the Chosin Reservoir, and his men put him inside an armored transport while fighting was going on. Chinese troops found him and took him as a Prisoner of War on December 2, 1950. Petrey’s comments about the POW experience were, “It was just miserable.” He recalled eating ground peanuts mixed with water through the incredibly cold winter and wanting food and warmth almost constantly. With the other POWs there, he found a way to survive, and credited that to his faith in God.

His family members were told he was MIA, and they feared him dead until they received a letter from him in 1951. Then they knew he was a POW. He was held for 32 months before he was released in 1953. When asked what his family’s first words were when they reunited, he emotionally said, “Thank God.”

Petry was discharged from the Army in 1954, but missed “his family” in the service, so he reenlisted. He returned to high school and obtained his high school diploma in 1959 because that was important to him. He served in Vietnam and earned 3 Purple Hearts and the Silver Star during his career. Eventually, he retired as a Master Sergeant with 30 years of service and dedicated himself to the state of Texas.

In a 2014 C-SPAN interview for the Korean War Veterans Digital Memorial, Petrey spoke about Texas: “I’ve adopted that as my home. I really enjoy living there. It’s a beautiful country, a beautiful state. I know a lot of people there. All my interests are there. I stay there.”

This interview of Clifford Petrey and others of POWs from Korea can be viewed in its entirety at https://koreanwarlegacy.org/chapters/the-pow-experience/.

MSgt Petry passed away on June 16, 2022 at the age of 91, and he was buried in the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery in Killeen, Texas, with full military honors, including attendance by the Patriot Guard Riders.

One does not need to have been a POW to be buried in one of the four Texas State Veterans Cemeteries around Texas. Burial benefits are exactly the same at the Texas State Veterans Cemeteries as they are at the VA National Cemeteries, and the Veterans Land Board ensures that our staff help each Texas Veteran and their family at their time of need. You can find out more at https://vlb.texas.gov/cemeteries.

The Texas Veterans Land Board salutes our Korean War Veterans today, and emphasizes that, even though this war is referred to as “the Forgotten War,” we will never forget their sacrifice.

The Texas Veterans Land Board (VLB) is happy to provide any needed help for these American heroes. The mission for the VLB is “to ensure that we offer the very best package of Veterans benefits in the country and those of us who work for the VLB strive to meet those goals every day. For more than 70 years, we have had the honor to serve Veterans, Military Members and their families in Texas, and we look forward to keeping that promise in the years to come.” Call 1–800–252–8387, email VLBinfo@glo.texas.gov, or visit vlb.texas.gov to see the different benefits available.

If you are a Veteran, thank you for your service. Click Here to Sign Up to stay informed on your benefits with the Texas Veterans Land Board.

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A blog for the Texas Veterans Land Board that provides in-depth information on benefits, programs and resources for Veterans, military members and their families in Texas.

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Official Account for the Texas Veterans Land Board | Land, Home, and Home Improvement Loans, Texas State Veterans Homes and Cemeteries