We called it a police action because Congress failed to declare war but make no mistake it was a hellish war.
I will not go into the causes of this war because the war itself is not the point of this article. A local boy who proudly stepped forward to serve his country is. Jimmy Allen, the son of Hatcher and Grace Prater Allen. Jimmy was born November 3rd, 1930 on Rough and Tough Branch and was killed in action July 5th, 1950 near Osan South Korea. This makes him the first Magoffin Countian, probably the first Kentuckian and possibly one of the first Americans killed in Korea. Private first class Jimmy Allen was a member of the 3rd Squad, 1st Platoon, Company B, 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment and 24th Infantry Division. Killed in action on a rainy overcast day he was awarded the Purple Heart, Combat Infantryman’s Badge, Korean Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Presidential Unit Citation and the Republic of Korea War Service Medal. Jimmy’s unit was involved in the first American action of this conflict, the Battle of Osan. The Battle of Osan, the first real engagement of the Korean War was fought by the 540-soldiers of Task Force Smith, which was a small forward element of the 24th Infantry Division, Jimmy’s unit. On July 5th, 1950 Task Force Smith attacked the enemy but had few weapons capable of taking out North Korean tanks. Jimmy and a buddy were sent ahead of this unit over a hill to try and knock out a tank, they never returned. Later Jimmy’s Dog Tags were recovered.
One can only wonder what thoughts went through Jimmy’s mind July 1st, 1950 when his unit was ordered to depart from Japan to go to Korea. He must have known what mortal danger lay just days ahead when he would reach Korea. He must have considered that he never again would be home to see the beautiful hills of Puncheon Creek. He had surely known the dangers when he walked out of the head of Puncheon and down Rough and Tough where he was born to Prestonsburg to enlist. He chose to serve his Country and he gave America all he had to give. He gave his life in defense of our freedom and our Nation. He did so with valor and bravery and was first in line to attack the enemy. The Battle of Osan saw 185 Americans killed or captured including five Kentuckians and one Magoffin Countian, PFC Jimmy Allen age 20. Five more Magoffin Countians would lose their life in Korea, they are PFC Charles Harmon age 20 killed August 16th, 1950, PFC Ray Palmer Fairchild age 21 killed November 27th, 1950, Corporal David Wireman age 20 killed October 2nd, 1951, PFC Billy J Salyers age 19 killed October 3rd, 1951 and Corporal Rex Lovely age 22 killed July 21st, 1952. The latter three men mentioned having been killed in North Korea, the first three in South Korea. They all deserve a place of honor in the collective memory of our country.
Jimmy Allen was a true American hero who gave his life that we might have the peace and freedom that we so often take for granted. Jimmy died 60 years ago in a foreign field fighting a communist cadre of nations that sought to limit the spread of freedom and human rights to the entire world. He did his part and gave his all to insure the values and freedoms we hold so dear could not be perished from the earth. Indeed, we citizens of Magoffin County should lift up the name Jimmy Allen, yes and also Charles Harmon, Ray Palmer Fairchild, David Wireman, Billy J Salyers and Rex Lovely in high honor and I for my part will do so. Will you join me, will you help celebrate their shorted lives by paying homage to them. I would ask that you do this by having a moment of silence during your worship this weekend to reflect upon the shortened life of each of these men. What might have been had they been permitted to live the full course of their lives we can never know. The children that never got to be born and the lives they would have touched we can never know. What we do know is that the sacrifice made by these American heroes to insure that we all could live a life of our on choosing was no empty gesture. From men such as these are all great nations preserved in freedom and liberty.