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Durham VA Medical Center


Korean War Coincidence

Korean War Veteran with American Legion hat looks at pictures on a wall

Arthur Barnes, an Army Veteran who fought in the Korean War, was entering the Durham VA when he stopped to look at one of the wall displays when an unlikely event happened. He recognized a fellow soldier from the photo taken when they served together in 1950.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Arthur Barnes, an Army Veteran who fought in the Korean War, was entering the Durham VA when he stopped to look at one of the wall displays.  One of about 8 rotating displays, the Korean wall display shows pictures from the conflict and includes text that explain what is shown in the photo. Barnes thought he recognized one of the service members in the photo, but after reading the text, knew instantly that he did.

Seeing the photo brought back a flood of memories. The photo depicts SFC Major Cleveland, a weapons squad leader fighting with the 2nd Infantry, north of the Chongchon River. Cleveland was pointing out a communist led North Korean position to a machine gun crew. One of the first troops to be deployed, Barnes began his tour in Korea in September of 1950 and spent 13 months clearing mines with the 74th combat battalion. Cleveland and Barnes served together for a short time while in Korea.

Serving from May 1948 to July 1957, he earned a Good Conduct Medal, Army Occupational Medal with German and Japan Clasps, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal with one Silver Service Star, and a Bronze Service Star United Nations Service Medal.

Arthur Barns, affectionately known as “Sergeant Peep Peep” by his comrades, ended his Army career as a Sergeant. His nickname came from an impromptu joke he made about birds to lighten the mood and improve moral. He was known by fellow soldiers for his humor and memorable jokes, including the one earning a nickname during a particularly challenging day in which his group travelled long distances in the freezing cold.

The Korean War presented many challenges, including severe weather. “When it reached zero degrees, we thought it was a heat wave,” Barnes joked. He considers himself fortunate to have survived when many he saw there did not. Barnes tries to keep a positive outlook on life and is grateful to surround himself with other Veterans who understand his service, like those at his American Legion Post 175 in Durham.

The North Carolina Division of Veterans Affairs is dedicated to thanking and honoring all the Veterans of the Korean War, their families and especially those who lost loved ones in the war. They are assisting all deserving Veterans, like Barnes, and their families in receiving a Certificate of Appreciation signed by Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta in honoring their service during the Korean War. This request form is for Korean War Veterans who currently live in North Carolina and it can be found here:


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