BY LISA WARREN
Thomas Paul Jaynes was just a young man in his early 20s when he answered the call of duty to the U.S. Army and traveled far, far away from his Limestone, Tenn., home to Korea.
The year was 1951, and the conflict between North and South Korea -- thousands of miles away in Asia -- had reached a fever pitch.
The conflict has been referred to as "The Forgotten War" because of the lack of public attention it received both during and after the war.
For Tom Jaynes, though -- who returned to his Limestone home after two years of enduring ear-wrenching air raids and indescribable trench warfare -- the Korean War will never be forgotten.
The memories of those two years are too ingrained inside his head. And they are still, at times, too much emotionally for him to bear.
On Sunday afternoon, members of the Mosheim-based Greene County Quilters took time to visit with Jaynes, who celebrated his 85th birthday on Oct. 1, to say "Thank you for your service" and to remind him that many people do remember what he and many other American troops did in Korea.
Along with them, the quilters brought a hand-stitched quilt to present to Jaynes as a token of appreciation.
The quilting club is part of an organization called "Quilts of Valor."
According to its website, http://www.qovf.org, the mission of the organization is to "cover all combat service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing Quilts of Valor."
According to Greene County Quilters member Gail Burnett, the project is one that touches her personally because both she and her husband are U.S. Marine Corps veterans.
"Two of our children have also been in the Navy," she said.
Burnett said all of the members of the Greene County Quilters club are "very patriotic" and take great pride in stitching quilts for veterans.
The group has donated around 100 quilts during the past two years to the James H. Quillen Veterans Affairs Medical Center at Mountain Home, in Johnson City.
Then, about six months ago, the group decided to also join the "Quilts of Valor" organization and help with that cause as well.
ABOUT THE FOUNDATION
Cash donations to help the Greene County Quilters with their quilting projects for veterans can be mailed to: Greene County Quilters, 190 Greenbriar. Mosheim, TN 37818.
Tax-deductible donations to the "Quilt of Valor" program can be sent to: Quilts of Valor Foundation, P.O. Box 728, Lebanon, NH 037660.
Persons who would like to request the donation of a quilt to a veteran may contact Dennis Taylor, regional coordinator of Quilts of Valor, in Knoxville at 865/310-3625 or by emailing him at (dennis.taylor@QOVF.org)
THE KOREAN WAR
According to the online information site http://www.history.com, the war between North and South Korea began in June 1950, when nearly 75,000 soldiers from the North Korean People's Army crossed the 38th parallel: the boundary between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to the north, a Communist state, and the pro-Western Republic of Korea to the south.
"This invasion was the first military action of the Cold War," explains the site, which is facilitated by The History Channel.
By July 1950, American troops had entered the war on South Korea's behalf with the backing of the United Nations Security Council to help defend South Korea against what the Council, and the U.S., saw as aggression by North Korea.
As the U.S. viewed the situation, the conflict was a war with communism itself because North Korea was a Communist state and had the support of the world's largest and most powerful Communist countries: the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China (also called Communist China).
"After some early back-and-forth across the 38th parallel, the fighting stalled, and casualties mounted with nothing to show for them," the site says.
"Meanwhile, American officials worked anxiously to fashion some sort of armistice with the North Koreans. The alternative, they feared, would be a wider war with Russia and China -- or even, as some warned, World War III.
"Finally, in July 1953, the Korean War came to an end. In all, some 5 million soldiers and civilians lost their lives during the war," the site says.
The Korean peninsula remains divided between its Communist north and democratic and pro-Western south today. The 1953 armistice agreement remains in effect.
No final peace agreement has ever been reached, although talks at the border continue between the two sides that fought the war.
In the U.S., the war was initially described by President Harry S. Truman as a "police action," since it was an undeclared military action, the History Channel site says.