By andrea Grossman
PHILADELPHIA – Jack Cloman is a registered Democrat, but Thursday night he was one of the stars at the Republican National Convention.
Cloman and six other members of the Maryland chapter of the Korean War Veterans Honor Guard presented the American flag on the big night – when Texas Gov. George W. Bush accepted the GOP nomination for president.
None of the guard members let their political affiliations interfere with the thrill of appearing on the podium on the most energy-charged night of the week.
“It was terrific,” said Cloman, of Joppa, an Army sergeant who fought in Korea from November 1952 until December 1953. “It was awesome to be up there.”
While presenting the colors, Vincent Krepps of Towson thought about his twin brother Richard, who was declared missing in action in December 1950, and never returned from Korea.
“I think of him all the time, mainly when `Taps’ is blown,” he said. Krepps, a former Army sergeant, served from August 1950 until January 1951.
Thursday was not the first time the honor guard has been in the spotlight. For the past six years, it has helped mark July 27, Korean War Armistice Day, on The Mall in Washington. The rest of the year the honor guard travels around Maryland participating in ceremonies.
The Maryland Chapter of Korean War Veterans is based in Baltimore. Members of the honor guard are from the greater Baltimore area.
The Korean War has just recently re-entered the American conscious. For years, it was known as the Forgotten War, a label that those who served in Korea did not appreciate.
“It doesn’t sit well with Korean War veterans,” said Cloman, who is from Harford County. “The 50th commemoration is going to help change that and bring it to the forefront.”
This year there was a ceremony on The Mall to remember the war, which started June 25, 1950. Another commemoration is planned for 2003, the 50th anniversary of the end of the war. In 1995, a Korean War Memorial was unveiled in Washington.
Even before he heard Bush’s acceptance speech, Cloman said he was thinking about voting for him in November.
“It looks like he is a very strong candidate,” said Cloman.
– 30 – CNS-08-03-00