ATLANTIC CITY - A medal ceremony to honor those who served in the Korean War, commonly referred to as the forgotten war, took place Friday at the memorial site in Brighton Park.
The commemorative ceremony is hosted annually by the New Jersey Korean War Veterans Association and is part of a statewide outreach campaign that helps those who served connect with veterans outreach programs.
Friday's ceremony took place on the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Korean War armistice agreement.
"It is considered the forgotten war, maybe because it was right after World War II," said Northfield Mayor Vince Mazzeo.
Mazzeo said his father served during the war but was in the Navy so he did not see any action.
A Longport resident, Frank DiLorenzo, however, was in Korea and near Pork Chop Hill - the location of a well-known battle during the war.
"He was ready to go up to the famous Pork Chop Hill when a mortar went off and half his ear was blown off," Mazzeo said.
Both he and DiLorenzo attended the ceremony Friday morning.
Pork Chop Hill was battled over twice in the spring and summer of 1953, at a time when an armistice was being negotiated. The hill was not considered a strategic stronghold but many soldiers lost their lives fighting for the 980-foot-high peak.
DiLorenzo said he remembers that moment, when he was about 22 years old, and suddenly went deaf in his right ear.
"There was an explosion and I happened to be pretty close to it. Something happened and I just couldn't hear. The told me to go to Seoul to get it checked out," DiLorenzo remembered. He used to go on patrols near the hill to gather information, which is where he was when the explosion occurred.
"(The effect of the explosion) was an infection formed in my ear, which was treated in Seoul. I then went to Army Tokyo Hospital and the doctor performed surgery on my right ear. He told me I would never be able to hear again," DiLorenzo said.
He cannot hear from his right ear and his left ear is fitted with a hearing aid, he said.
As for those who call the war a forgotten war, or have opinions and discussions about why war was waged, DiLorenzo said he prefers not to get involved.
If someone said the war is a forgotten one, he said, he would lose respect for that person and likely never speak to them.
He prefers not to talk about his time in the war and does not think about it often, he said.
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