Korean War Memorial Misnames Veterans


Korean War Memorial | Image by Bumble Dee/Shutterstock

Two Dallas brothers — founders of the nonprofit Korean War Project — claim that the new Korean War Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C. is missing or misspells the names of at least 1,500 service members.

The wall, completed in the summer of 2022, was supposed to list the names of service members — more than 43,000 — killed in the war in order of rank and branch of service.

However, shortly after its reveal last summer, Hal and Ted Barker began to receive complaints that the $22 million new addition had more than a few hiccups.

“All of a sudden, I started getting emails and phone calls saying, ‘My relative’s name is misspelled or not on the wall,’ and that’s unacceptable,” Ted told NBC 5 DFW.

The Barkers are very familiar with Korean War history. The brothers became interested after their father served as a Marine Corps pilot and would not talk about his experiences.

Now, the brothers run the Korean War Project. In 1995 — the same year the original memorial was first dedicated — they created a website to help bring veterans, families, researchers, and historians together to gather information about the Korean War.

As a result of three decades of research and thousands of peoples’ inputs, the brothers have put together books with lists of the names of service members.

“Many of the names are misspelled, especially Hispanic, Puerto Rican, Eastern European, Hawaiian and Japanese. There were problems going back to the war itself where they spelled their names wrong,” Hal explained to NBC 5.

The Korean War Veterans Memorial Foundation was in charge of overseeing the construction of the new memorial. However, the engravings were sourced from the Korean War casualty list produced by the Department of Defense.

“If you’re killed or died in a war, people need to know what your name was so they can find you and memorialize you properly. A name is everything that we have,” said Ted.

In response to the complaints, the Department of Defense released a statement saying, “The errors are a very unfortunate mistake and the DOD is working in tandem with the Dept. of Interior to correct those mistakes. We are also aware that some names are on the Wall of Remembrance which were not included on the Department’s final list of Korean War casualties.”

It’s a mistake, the brothers say, that will cost taxpayers millions to fix.

“If they had just talked to us and worked with us, we could have saved the United States taxpayers probably $10 to $15 million, because that’s what it’s going to take to redo this,” said Ted.

According to Hal, the pair gave the books of names to government officials when the project began.

When questioned about this, the Department of Defense responded, “The Barkers have provided valuable assistance to the Department on a number of occasions in the past, and DOD is currently reviewing [the] information provided by the Barkers to determine if any changes to the Korean War Casualty records is warranted.”

Officials also encouraged the public to notify them if they notice names that are missing, misspelled, or mistakenly included.

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