Lynn, sent this to me for publication on our website back in July of 2010. Do to lack of space on the FREE site it was not possible. Thank you for your patience Lynn. - Gary
I was drafted for military service on January 3, 1952. I had been married to my wife Beatrice for three months. Because I could type I was held at Ft. Custer, MI for about five weeks to serve in an office that typed discharge or release papers for veterans, many returning from Korea. After five months I was sent to Ft. Lee, VA where I took infantry basic for eight weeks followed by eight weeks of Graves Registration training. Shortly after that I was shipped to Korea where I served in the 148th Graves Registration Company until being sent home in time for my active duty discharge. In Korea I was involved in some Search and Recovery the first two months and then was assigned to the company Operations Section because I could type. My effective date of separation was on 16 December 1953.
Many years later (1995) I was invited by a local WWII veteran to attend a Graves Registration reunion held in Springfield, IL. I attended and enjoyed learning more about the experiences of WWII who served as Graves Registration personnel. The next year I was voted to lead the reunion group as its president. I believe I held that position until 2002 when Jack Buzzard was elected to serve. Due to my wife's illnesses and eventual death in 2007 I have not attended the reunions. I plan to attend the 2010 reunion.
About ten years ago my wife and I traveled to Tuscola, IL to see where efforts were being made to develop a Korean War Library by Lynnita Brown. She is a historian who has interviewed many Korean War combat veterans. I explained to her that I had served in Graves Registration in Korea. She said she was interested in helping me prepare a memoir. I had an advantage in that my wife had kept all the letters that I had written to her while in the Army so that remembering was easier and chronology of events made possible. I had also taken pictures while in Korea that were of help in the writing. The memoir is published and can be accessed on the Internet as follows:
Here is an excerpt from Lynn’s interview for the Korean War Educator website
Graves Registration Reunions
A few of the men assigned to the 148th Graves Registration have met and held reunions over the past several years, and there is a concentrated effort to try to find more 148th veterans. Through the efforts of the group, Harley S. Reeder, Homer Hall, Robert Helman, William C. Copeland, Bernard M. Cooper, and John T. Tapper have been located. Some have tried Internet resources to locate lost buddies. A few years ago, 350 veterans of Graves Registration (from World War II, Korea, and Vietnam) were invited to attend a reunion. "The number of returned invitations was minimal," said Hahn, "which indicated that a lot of those invited did not seem interested in responding to the invitation."
This is a little surprising, given the fact that serving in the Army and Graves Registration probably affected the lives of other GR Specialists like it did the life of Lynn Hahn. The GI Bill provided assistance to him when he wanted to go back to college and when he wanted to buy a home. Beyond the tangible benefits of eligibility for the GI Bill, former soldiers like Hahn also benefited in other ways from their military stint. "I believe that serving in the Army significantly shaped and affected my post-military life," he said. "The army training taught some discipline that I believe has helped me. The Graves Registration experience forever impressed on me the ultimate sacrifices that have been made for our country, so I better appreciate those who have, and are now, serving our country. I have a better understanding of the tremendous effort and cost that going to war involves. In my lifetime, I have seen four major wars for our country: World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and he Gulf War. In 71 years, that averages about one war every 18 years. If we go to war with Iraq this year, it will make the average every 14 years. My understanding of war makes me fearful for the future."
Lynn and Beatrice have attended several Graves Registration reunions since Lynn first got involved with them. Their first one was with a group of World War II veterans who had served in Graves Registration. Someone from the group read about Lynn in the Muskegon Chronicle newspaper when Hahn shared details of his experience in Korea with a local reporter. As a result of that contact, Lynn and Beatrice attended their first Graves Registration reunion in 1995 in Springfield, Illinois. At the 1996 reunion, Lynn was voted to be the group’s new president.
Just after the 1995 reunion, Lynn and Beatrice traveled to Ft. Lee to visit the museum there. He met Tom Bourlier, Director of the Mortuary Affairs Center. That led to the first Ft. Lee reunion in 1997. "Since then," Hahn said, "the annual reunions have been held on the off year at Ft. Lee and the on year at some other place." In 2001, the reunion at Ft. Lee was canceled due to the 9-11 suicide attack on the Twin Towers. Ft. Lee Graves Registration personnel were actively involved in recovery efforts in New York, so the reunion was rescheduled for 2002."I had some great times being a part of the reunions," said Lynn. "I met some great people and did some things that I never thought I would be involved with. Working with Tom Bourlier and Doug Howard, the Deputy Director of GR at Ft. Lee, has been very rewarding for me. My friend Roy Roggentin, and his charming wife Caroline, served as Secretary-Treasurer and were of great help."
Besides his work with the reunion group, Lynn made a trip to see the Korean War Memorial in Washington DC. His medals—Good Conduct, National Defense, Korean Service, United Nations, Korean War 50th, and United States War Memorial Coin—were mounted and framed courtesy of Beatrice. They adorn a space on the wall in their home as a reminder of Lynn’s service years. He would like to visit Korea again, but his wife’s precarious health precludes a return to the "Land of the Morning Calm," so Lynn’s visits to Korea are limited to the occasional mental trips back in time to 1952-53.
When he thinks back on Korea, it gives him pause and concern about the present state of world affairs and the current unrest in the Middle East. He knows from experience that when news reporters announce yet another war-related death of an American soldier, standard paperwork will inevitably be filled out for the return of his or her remains and personal effects, and then grief will follow for yet another American household. "I do not recall shedding tears while in Korea," he said. "I do now find it quite easy to come to tears when involved in veteran’s affairs, parades with veterans, and the flag going by."
The words, "Freedom is not Free", are more than just a clique to Lynn Hahn. They express the grim reality of war that he saw first-hand as a Graves Registration specialist in Korea. In 1951, Lynn’s father accompanied his eldest child to the bus that would take Lynn to a basic training military camp. Mr. Hahn commented to his departing son, "I wouldn’t mind your going to war, or even that you might not ever return, if it meant that there would never be another war." It was a day for family rejoicing when Lynn Hahn safely returned home from the Korean War. But how many other fathers’ sons will not return from war unscathed before the world understands these truths: War means death. Death means sorrow. And to live in freedom is a costly privilege.