Smith Honors Local American Hero on 50th Anniversary of the Signing of the Armistice of the Korean War
July 25, 2003
To commemorate this occasion and remember the sacrifices made by our servicemembers during the Korean War, Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) entered the following statement into the Congressional Record today:
“I would like to take a moment to honor an individual from my district who is a true American hero, Duane A. Osborn. He is an ordinary man with an extraordinary story. Unless you are a friend or a family member you won’t recognize his face, or ever have heard of his name. But there are millions of Americans like him – Americans who have sacrificed so much for our country and do not receive nearly enough recognition in return for their service. On this, the 50th Anniversary of the Signing of the Armistice of the Korean War, I’d like to introduce you to one of many forgotten warriors in a forgotten war.
“Duane A. Osborn was born in Wapato, WA on May 30, 1934. In June of 1952, shortly after his 18th birthday, he enlisted in the United States Air Force with the 8th Division. Before he was sent to the Korean War he married Donna Elder.
“From 1950 to 1953, the United States joined with United Nations forces in Korea to take a stand against what was deemed a threat to democratic nations worldwide. 6.8 million Americans served on active-duty during the Korean War era and 1.8 million soldiers served in the Korean theater during the three-year period of hostilities. 36,940 service members made the ultimate sacrifice and lost their lives during the war.
“At war's end, millions of American veterans returned to a peacetime world of families, homes, and jobs – and to a country reluctant to view the Korean War as something to memorialize. But to the men and women who served, the Korean War could never be a forgotten war.
“In October of 1955, following his service, Duane returned home to Washington state and settled in an unincorporated area that would become the city of SeaTac in my district. He worked building county roads until an accident in September of 1973 rendered him a paraplegic.
“Duane’s hardship duty in Korea had prepared him to meet this difficult physical challenge and in 17 years of participating in the National Veterans Wheelchair Games, he has won 100 gold, silver, and bronze medals – proving again and again his courage, commitment and dedication, as well as his passion for living.
“Duane continues to contribute to his community and country as a board member of the Northwest Chapter of Paralyzed Veterans of America where he volunteers his time to make my district and Washington state more accessible for people with disabilities. He works tirelessly to ensure that all Americans are given the opportunities to live their lives to the fullest.
“It is the regular men and women like Duane who honorably answered their country's call to duty and went to Korea over fifty years ago today that we must also remember. Countless Americans never won medals, never were labeled “heroes,” yet they tirelessly fought for the causes they believed in – freedom and country.
“Now home as proud veterans, these individuals know that freedom is not free, they know the costs and they continue to fight anonymously for liberties at home as they serve their communities, once again volunteering to make life better for all of us.
“I thank Duane A. Osborn and the millions of other Korean War veterans for their contributions to my community and my country, both during that War and now at home, and I ask that we remember his service and the service of so many other ordinary, inspiring individuals today.”