Cerro Gordo County Iowa
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 The Globe-Gazette
Mason City, Cerro Gordo County, Iowa

They Served With Honor

MASON CITY — A plaque in the lobby of the Cerro Gordo County Courthouse honors the men and women from the county who have given their lives in military service. Eighteen names are enshrined from the Korean War — 13 from Mason City, three from Plymouth, one from Rockwell and one from Clear Lake. Nearly 34,000 troops died in battle. Almost 20,000 died of other causes. More than 100,000 were wounded and 8,000 were declared missing in action. And yet, it has often been called “the forgotten war,” the one that occurred between World War II and Vietnam.

They Served With Honor: St. Ansgar man's unit took in teen orphaned by Korean War
by Ashley Miller, Tuesday, January 24, 2017

ST. ANSGAR — A St. Ansgar man was compassionate to the youngest victims of the Korean War while stationed near Seoul.

"There’s no one that suffers more in war than the children," said Nels Goldberg, 83.

Goldberg, then a 23-year-old carpenter, was drafted and assigned to the military police. He joined the 728th MP BN, part of the 8th Army, which was responsible for guarding a highly-classified Air Force installation about 10 miles north of the capital that was surrounded by rice paddies.

He was sent to Korea in March 1956, after the war had ended.

"We never knew what they were doing, but our job was to make sure the airmen were secure," he said. "We were all alone but no harm was going to come to any of us."

Although there during peacetime, Goldberg said his unit was instructed to leave the area in case of attack, and the installation would be blown up.

He believes that unit is still guarding the same spot today, which is located near the 38th parallel, or the demilitarized zone separating North and South Korea.

The Pubwoon Orphanage, which housed about 60 children, was about three-fourths of a mile away from where Goldberg was stationed.

"We could see the kids any time we wanted to," he said. "We were always welcome." During a Christmas party, the children sang carols in English and Korean to the soldiers, who gave them a meal and fresh fruit.

His mother and church women in his hometown of Lyle, Minnesota, collected and mailed warm clothing for the orphans for the winter, weather Goldberg said was similar to Iowa. He continued to send clothing to the orphanage two years after he returned home in August 1957.

The children, however, craved attention the most.

"What I couldn't bring them didn't compare to me sitting and holding them in my lap," he said.

His unit even took in a 13-year-old boy, Lee In Soon, otherwise known as Tony, who had no known living relatives. He had been found alone during the war.

Tony lived in the barracks with the officers, wearing a khaki uniform with master sergeant stripes a village woman had tailored for him.

"He spent an awful lot of time with us guys," Goldberg said. "He just loved the GIs."

Two years after he returned home, Goldberg received a letter saying Tony had found a grandmother but didn't hear from him again after that. He would be in his early 70s today.

"When I knew him, he spoke fluent English, so I think he could have gotten a tremendously good job in Seoul," Goldberg said.

Whenever he visited Seoul — then a city of about 1 million — Goldberg always brought a camera. "You'd never know what you'd see along the way," he said.

Upon returning home, Goldberg returned to his building career, constructing homes, the bell tower of First Lutheran Church and 14 signs around Lyle and St. Ansgar, one of which was completed this fall.

Photographs courtesy of Globe-Gazette and Press-News
Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, March of 2017


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