Corporal Roy Martin
ALLAMAKEE COUNTY NATIVE ROY VICKERY HONORED DURING NATIONAL POW/MIA DAY
A fallen Allamakee County soldier from the Korean War never had the proper burial or closure to his passing, but he was one of many honored at a ceremony held last fall in Waterloo, Iowa at the Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum.
Roy Martin Vickery, a native of Post Township of Allamakee County, was captured as a Prisoner of War (POW) during the Korean Conflict and died in captivity. His remains, however, were never returned and he and 139 other Iowans are still listed as "Missing in Action" (MIA).
National POW/MIA Remembrance Day was observed September 15, 2017 with the ceremony being held at the Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum in Waterloo. The ceremony focused special attention on servicemen and women who were listed as missing from the Korean War era, noting that "As the frontlines rapidly changed in 1950 and 1951, many fallen heroes were unable to be recovered due to the hostility of the enemy."
Allamakee County Veterans Services Director Heather Homewood attended the ceremony and accepted a Certificate of Remembrance in honor of Roy Vickery. The certificate of Remembrance read as follows:
In recognition of the 2017 NATIONAL POW/MIA DAY,
the Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum
honors the service and sacrifice of
ROY MARTIN VICKERY
Those who fought and died for our country must never be forgotten.
The Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum and the people of Iowa
stand united in support of those lost and their families back home who
were unable to lay them to rest.
Ms. Homewood shared, "The ceremony at the Grout Museum was very dignified. It was an honor to accept the certificate on behalf of Mr. Vickery and our county. As names were read off and certificates were handed out, I was amazed at how many Korean veterans' remains were not recovered/returned home. Furthermore, I would like to express that the Grout Museum has a wonderful display of military memorabilia and it would be a great educational opportunity for all ages to view."
Biographical information about Roy Martin Vickery's life and service was also compiled and shared at the Remembrance Day ceremony. It read as follows:
Roy Martin Vickery was born on August 25, 1924 in Post Township in Allamakee County about five miles northeast of Postville. His parents, Martin and Millie (Brainard) Vickery, lived on an eighty-acre farm in the hills close to the Yellow River. There were four children born to the couple but three died in infancy. They adopted two boys, James and Donald. Donald died in a horse runaway farm accident in 1945.
Roy attended a nearby country school, finished the eighth grade and became a full-time laborer on the family farm. In 1944 he entered the Army and left for overseas duty in May 1945. The sudden end to the war in August of 1945 sent him to Japan as part of the occupation force until 1946. He returned home, working as a carpenter and farming until July 1949 when he and a close friend enlisted in the Army Combat Engineers. After basic training he became part of the 2nd Engineer Combat Battalion attached to the 2nd Army Infantry Division, part of the 8th Army. The unit was based in Fort Lewis, Washington.
When the North Koreans invaded the South June 25, 1950, the 2nd Engineers deployed to Korea with the 2nd Infantry Division. They helped defend the Pusan perimeter and then, after the Inchon invasion, moved northward, pushing the North Korean forces ahead of them. In late 1950 the unit was only fifty miles from Yalu River and China. At this point the Chinese entered the fighting, sending waves of troops against the 2nd Division. When it became clear the United Nations forces could not hold their position at Kunu-ri, they turned southeast to regroup at Sunchon.
To accomplish this, they were forced to run a six-mile gauntlet under unrelenting Chinese fire and sustained heavy losses. As the 2nd Division troops evacuated Kunu-ri, the 2nd Engineers remained behind as a defensive holding combat force while destroying any equipment that might be of value to the Chinese and burning the "colors" so the enemy could not capture them for propaganda purposes. Only 266 men from the 2nd Engineers out of 977 were able to make it out of Kunu-ri to Sunchon; the rest were killed or captured.
As the 2nd Engineers prepared to evacuate Kunu-ri, Chinese troops overran their position. Corporal Roy Vickery was taken prisoner December 1, 1950. His parents were later notified that based on reports of released prisoners, their son had died in a prison camp February 20, 1951. No remains were ever identified or returned.
In 2017, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced the identification and return of the remains of two members of the 2nd Engineer Combat Battalion who were also involved in the fighting at Kunu-ri. Neither of those victims were identified as Vickery. He is listed on the Korean War Project Remembrance website.
Source: Waukon Standard, Waukon, Iowa, May 23, 2018
Transcribed by Connie Ellis (not related)
The photo and news article were contributed by Connie Ellis
Additional information about Roy Vickery is in his entry on the Korean Conflict Honor Roll (link below)
Korean Conflict Honor Roll
Return to Military Records Index