By Dave Skocik
Milford resident Charles Garrod is on a mission is to make certain the 1951 start of the Korean War is not forgotten.
June 25 will mark the 70th anniversary of the North Korean Army’s invasion of the southern half of the nation. Mr. Garrod is working on a project to ask the governors of all 50 states to issue proclamations acknowledging and honoring those who served, suffered and died in that conflict. In 1994 the Pentagon estimated the number of Americans lost during the three-year conflict at 36,914.
He still recalls his 19-month tour with the 51st Fighter Interceptor Wing at Suwon Air Base, South Korea between July 1952 and November 1953 where he served as supervisor of ground radio maintenance.
Raised in Newark, N.J., he enlisted in the Air Force right out of high school in April 1951 and served with a number of WWII veterans who were called back to duty in Korea. Upon his return to the United States, he attended Rutgers University followed by 36 years in management in business and government, later becoming New Jersey’s First Municipal Court Administrator, responsible for New Jersey first uniform bail schedule. He was the first non-attorney to be appointed to a New Jersey Supreme Court rules committee.
His fellow veterans have always been a priority. As an elected member of the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders he was instrumental in conducting the largest Stand Down Operation ever held in New Jersey. He created and operated the first and only Court Diversion program in New Jersey as a Neighborhood Justice Center, later serving as a special assistant to the Commissioner of New Jersey Corrections, and later as a special Assistant to the Chairman of the New Jersey Parole Board.
In Delaware he has served as the Delaware State Commander of the Korean War Veterans Association, and for the last four years has been chairman and program director of the Annual Milford Memorial Day ceremony, which has been cancelled because of the Corona virus.
At 86, Mr. Garrod is very comfortable with social media and is in regular contact with many fellow veterans aged 86 to 95. In 2008 he attended a revisit program in S. Korea and found a lot of interest in veterans getting together. He’s created a Facebook for Korean War veterans and has over 3,600 members in every state and many nations around the world. His efforts to bring attention to the 70th anniversary of The Forgotten War were acknowledged in the March – April issue of the Korean War Veterans Association magazine by the organization’s national president. With commemorative events and meetings being cancelled across the nation and the South Korean government’s postponement of the celebration until the fall, he believes recognition delayed is recognition denied.
“We ask that you keep the memories of our departed Veteran Heroes in your hearts and minds. They fought and gave their lives so that we can live our lives. I know they would be supporting this action. God bless them, God bless you all and God Bless America,” said Mr. Garrod.
Although he only received a handful of responses from the nation’s governors, he’s been encouraging his fellow veterans to petition their state’s leaders to not allow them to be forgotten. Garrod can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.