Turnace Hartwell Brown of Daleville died as a prisoner of war in the North Korean village of Uisa-ri during the POW’s 60-mile march to Kangge in January 1951. His remains were returned to the United States for burial some six decades later.
Odell Clark of Pinckard is buried in the African American section of the Mount Moriah Cemetery in Newton. The son of Willie and Cordelia Dawkins Clark was killed in a Communist Chinese Force’s counterattack during Operation Thunderbolt in Kumyangjang, South Korea, Jan. 29, 1951.
Sydney Richard Mauldin of Newton was a 19-year-old Army Private First Class with the 24th Infantry Division when he died during the Kum River Battle in South Korea. First reported missing in action July 16, 1950 and later declared dead on that date, Mauldin was returned to his parents to be buried in the Providence Baptist Church Cemetery in Clayhatchee.
Brown, Clark and Mauldin are among 16 Gold Star soldiers featured in “Gold Star Soldiers of the Korean War from Dale County, Alabama,” a publication researched and compiled by Dale County natives Berta Blackwell, Kay Kingsley and Donna Snell.
It is their third such project initiated to ensure that the men from Dale County who made the supreme sacrifice for their fellow man will never be forgotten. The term “Gold Star soldier” is a reference to a tradition that began in World War I as families and friends of active duty service members displayed white flags bordered in red with a blue star in the center. A gold star replacing the blue in the flag indicates those who have given their lives for their country.
The first publication, completed in 2018, is the collection of Dale County Gold Star soldiers from World War I. In 2019 the trio completed a collection of Dale County Gold Star soldiers from World War II. This most recent endeavor tells the story of the Korean War which began in June 1950 with the invasion of South Korea by the North Korean People’s Army.
“Even though it claimed a total of around 4 million casualties, with at least half of these coming from civilians, the true brutality of the war never really penetrated the American cultural consciousness,” said the authors in the preface of the book, noting that the searing heat and humidity of the summers and the arctic winds from Siberia in the winners were nearly unbearable.
“With the temperatures falling as low as 40 degrees below zero, frostbite was the worst malady. Even with extra protection, soldiers lost fingers, toes and ears during the first winter of the Korean War,” Kingsley said. “They also suffered from frozen rations, icy terrain, jammed weapons and a shortage of cold weather gear. The ghastly weather often seemed to American troops an even greater enemy than the North Koreans or Chinese.”
The impetus for the first project began after Blackwell and Snell, as representatives of the Ozark-Dale County Public Library, participated in the three-day World War I Centennial Workshop in 2017 at Auburn University’s Caroline Marshall Draughon Center for the Arts and Humanities.
“The book was so well received and appreciated by the descendants, historians and folks in and around the Wiregrass,” Blackwell said. “It seemed only natural to begin the search for our WWII Gold Stars.”
In this third publication, Blackwell, Kingsley and Snell again credit the descendants of the soldiers cited. “We offer our humble and heartfelt gratitude to the descendants of these fine men—the daughter who never felt the warmth of her father’s embrace, the brothers, sisters, in-laws and cousins who longed for a safe return of their loved one,” the authors said. “Thank you for sharing with us your precious keepsakes, medals, photos and memories.”