Philip Mohr, curator
The Korean War is known as “the Forgotten War” because not much documentation or historical significance has been attached to it. Unfortunately, the History Center archives are no exception. We have boxes of archives on the World Wars, Vietnam, and the recent wars in the Middle East. We have no such box on Des Plaines and the Korean War.
VFW Post 2992 is taking time this Memorial Day to honor the memory of five Des Plaines men who died in the Korean War. The service will be held on May 25th at 11:30am at the Lake Park Memorial Pavilion. The men’s information follows.
Richard Becker, Army, a veteran of WWII died in an accident near Nong-Dong on January 13, 1952
Robert Beth, Marines, killed in action near the Chosin Reservoir on December 2, 1950
Donald E. Engh, Marines, killed in action near the Western Outposts on October 27, 1952
Sam Harmon Wakefield, Air Force, killed during a training exercise in Utah in June 1951
William Zoellick, Army, died while a prisoner of war on February 27, 1951.
The VFW approached the History Center for information on these men. Two volunteers and I researched in our archives and online newspaper databases to put together a set of obituaries. A good place to start research on Korean War casualties is on http://www.koreanwar.org/. We will continue to look into these five men.
Using the database above, we came upon records of three other men who enlisted in Des Plaines. We will continue researching these men to understand their Des Plaines connection. Here is what we have found so far.
Harley K. Herbster, Army, killed in action near the Chinju-Masan Corridor on August 18, 1950
· Harley enlisted in Des Plaines. He was survived by his father, who lived in Chicago. No further information found as of yet.
James Anthony Hofius, Army, killed in action near Bloody Ridge on August 27, 1951
· James grew up in Amherst, Wisconsin. His father died and was buried there. James moved to Des Plaines with his mother, Irene, and at least two siblings sometime between his high school graduation and his conscription at age 20 in August 1950. According to a Chicago Tribune obituary, James has two jobs before the draft: one at International harvester in Chicago, and another at Keefer Grocery store in Des Plaines. His remains were buried in Amhurst with his father’s.
Edmund W. Suhren, Army, killed in action on April 18, 1951
· Edmund’s home address was in an unincorporated area north of Des Plaines that I hear was called Mudville. One member of the American Legion post thinks of Edmund as a Des Plaines person. However, that unincorporated area falls under the Mt. Prospect postal zone if we’re splitting hairs. Edmund’s remains were buried in the Memory Gardens Cemetery in Arlington Heights.
If you have original material that will enhance our knowledge of Des Plaines people involved in this war, please contact the History Center. firstname.lastname@example.org 847-391-5399