Korea War Memorial in DC adds 43,000 names
But the fight at the outpost had been bad for the Marines. Walter had crawled to the front lines to search for his brother but was injured and sent away.
Later, as a truck full of dead Marines was brought in, Walter stopped it at gunpoint. He said he wanted to look for his brother. He started unzipping the body bags.
Walter Cribben never found James, who is still missing and tormented by the Korean War almost to the day he died.
On Tuesday, James J. Cribben’s name was officially unveiled on the new Memorial Wall of Remembrance at the Korean War Veterans Memorial on the National Mall in Washington.
The Korean War Veterans Memorial will add a list of those who died in action
It was carved in stone along with the names of 36,000 other Americans and 7,100 of the US Army’s Korean Augmentation (KATUSA).
“It’s just amazing how long this is going to last,” said James Cribben’s nephew, Jeff Cribben, in tears as he stood before his uncle’s name. “It’s good. It’s good material.
Robin Piacine, of Crossville, Tenn., carried a framed photo of his uncle, Sgt. William C. Bradley, an Army doctor who had been captured during the war and died of pneumonia in captivity. He too is still missing.
“This wall is so important because I want no one to ever forget the sacrifices all these men made,” she said. “And what that means for families, as we may have the only place in the world to come, honor and love a lost loved one.
“I don’t have a marker for him,” she said. “His body is not at home. So for me, it’s a sacred place. And he is one of his comrades.
The unveiling followed a 15-hour ceremony for several hundred relatives and friends of those who died at the memorial. As a quintet of the US Marine Band played the anthem “Abide in Me”, family members filed past the wall of names.
The official inauguration of the wall was underway Wednesday morning. Funding for the $22 million project came from donations from the people of the United States and South Korea, according to the Park Service and the memorial foundation.
During the Korean War (1950-1953), forces from the United States, South Korea, and their allies fought communist forces from North Korea and China, aided by the Soviet Union.
It was a bitter back-and-forth struggle that killed people on the ground and in the air. It cost 36,000 Americans in three years, while the Vietnam War cost 58,000 in a decade.
Seven thousand Americans are still missing.
North Korea says call for formal end to Korean War ‘premature’
Tuesday’s events unfolded on a wet afternoon, under gray skies with a sprinkle of rain. Dragonflies flew above the seated crowd as dignitaries from the United States and South Korea spoke. Later, people placed white roses near the parents’ names on the monument’s gray granite.
Some wore T-shirts and buttons emblazoned with images of young soldiers.
The story of the Cribben twins was told by Jeff Cribben, 62, who is Walter’s son and James’ nephew. He lives in San Diego.
“They went together and they were fighting the same battles,” he said. “They would never let my dad and uncle go on patrol together.”
So when one of them was ordered to patrol, the twins would flip a coin to see which brother left, he said.
“Who will know?” says Jeff Cribben. “My uncle had lost the toss, so he went to the outpost.”
James Cribben was one of about 40 Marines who occupied the Vegas outpost in what was called the Nevada compound. It consisted of outposts Reno, Carson, and Vegas. They were so named because “it was a real gamble to be there”, said Jeff Cribben.
Around 7 p.m. on March 26, 1953, the Chinese assault came. The fights follow one another and the outpost is pulverized by the artillery.
Walter Cribben crawled to see if he could find his brother, but shrapnel from a mortar hit him in the hand and he had to retreat.
“They sent him back to the aid station,” Jeff Cribben said. “And when he arrived, a transport vehicle [was] crossing laden with dead Marines. My father stopped them, with his gun, and told them he would look for his brother.
“So he spent the next time unzipping the body bags, looking for his brother,” he said. “That’s the awful part.”
After the war, said Jeff Cribben, his father came home and tried to live a normal life. “He was very smart and successful. And then he would sabotage himself with alcohol and ruin everything. Almost on purpose.
He had a nervous breakdown in 1969. He was admitted to a hospital in San Diego, where he was treated with electroshock.
“It didn’t work out,” her son said. “He got out of there addicted to Librium and 10 other drugs. They called him cured.
His life did not improve. In 1992 he was living in a halfway house in Arizona and was not doing well.
One day, someone from the Department of Veterans Affairs came to visit him and said, “Don’t you know what’s wrong with you? … You are a classic post-traumatic stress disorder.
The Veterans Administration placed him in a program for post-traumatic stress disorder. He was found to be 100% disabled, his son said.
“So he injured himself twice: once in the hand and once in the head,” said Jeff Cribben. “I don’t know who suffered more – the one who got lost, my uncle or my father.”
His father died of lung cancer in 1999 – “never knowing what happened to his brother”, his son said. “And we still don’t.”