Korean MemorialKorean War & Korea Defense Service Veterans, Lake Co. (FL), Chapter 169

Korean War Veterans honor area cadets

by THERESA CAMPBELL, Staff Writer, The Daily-Commercial, Leesburg FL

 Leesburg, FL, March 17, 2011:  Alta Yohn smiled knowing that her late husband, a Korean War veteran, would have approved.

The Korean War Veterans Association of Lake County, Chapter 169, Inc., presented the John A. Yohn Award of $500 to the Leesburg High Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program on Wednesday, in recognition of the cadets' achievements and hard work.

"I know John would be pleased with this," Alta Yohn said, recalling her husband of six years believed in the JROTC and was active in the KWVA.

"It was a big part of his life," she said.

Chief Master Sergeant, Dan Dixon, who leads the Leesburg JROTC, welcomes Alta Yohn at the John A. Yohn Award Ceremony. Photo by Keri Rasmussen-Bekier, Daily-Commercial.

Tom Thiel, president of the KWVA, told the cadets that John Yohn was a member of the Ohio National Guard with Company A, of the 987th Armored FA BN, which was activated for the Korean War. John was a gunnery sergeant in Korea from 1950-52.

"I know that he saw heavy hand-to-hand combat, especially after the Chinese People's Volunteers intervened in North Korea in November of 1950," Thiel said. "He heard the sounds of the attacking soldiers, he heard their bugles and whistles, and he saw the red and green tracers in the black of night, and then they (attackers) came, wave after wave."

Thiel said his friend witnessed the loss of many of his wartime buddies.

The war ceased in 1953 with an armistice.

"And just like most of his fellow Korean vets, he came home pretty much without  fanfare," Thiel said. "He blended back into a normal life of being a productive American citizen. At first he didn't talk too much about it, and then little by little, he began to realize what he and his fellow Korean vets did about 60 years ago right now, was one of the most significant efforts in our nation's history, because it drove one of the first nails in coffin of communism."

Thiel told the cadets that he believed the goal of communism was "to capture the minds, bodies and souls of freedom-loving people everywhere. Unfortunately, North Korea remains one of the few surviving Communist nations on earth."

North and South Korea are divided by Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), a 2.5-mile wide buffer zone between the two Koreas.

"It's separating a very depressed North Korea from their freedom-loving and quite prosperous brothers and sisters in South Korea," Thiel said, adding Yohn was vocal in his later years with the KWVA in sharing with others about Korea and his wartime experience.

Tim Parrish, Jr. (left), accepts the John A. Yohn Award on behalf of the Leesburg High AF Jr. ROTC from Chapter 169 President, Tom Thiel (right) and Ted Jansen (center). Chief Master Sgt. Dan Dixon is in background. Photo by Keri Rasmussen-Bekier, Daily-Commercial.

Tim Parrish, Jr., who plans to enter the U.S. Marines after he graduates from Leesburg High School in the spring, said he enjoyed hearing about Yohn.

"I think that's the best job that you can do in the world, is to serve in the United States military," Parrish said. "And to hear  some of the hard times he went through in Korea was something that stuck out to me as well."

Thiel said the Leesburg JROTC deserved the John A. Yohn Award, which they will use to compete at Daytona National Drill Meets.

"We've been the top 10 in the nation for the last 10 years, so I'm excited and this (award) is a great help to us," said Chief Master Sgt. Dan Dixon, who leads the Leesburg JROTC.

Leesburg High AF Jr ROTC Cadets Cadets saluting at the end of the presentation of the John A. Yohn Award.  Photo by Keri Rasmussen-Bekier, Daily-Commercial.

"It's important to support this group of young people; they are our future," Thiel said in honoring the JROTC. "These are good young men and women, and also it was important to us to recognize John, he was our brother."

Yohn passed away Aug. 24, 2010. He was buried with full honors at Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell.