60 years later, Korean War vets honored in Columbia - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

60 years later, Korean War vets honored in Columbia

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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

Sixty years ago this month, an agreement was signed that ended the Korean War. Since then, it has often been called The Forgotten War, but not by the men and women who fought. On Monday, they were honored in Columbia.

"At 16, 17 years old I grew up fast. I really did," said Tommy Cotton.

At the age most kids are still learning to drive, Cotton was lugging a 50 pound machine gun tripod through Korea. On top of the thousands who were trying to kill him, he battled the elements. It was so cold, his water-cooled machine gun would sometimes freeze.

"The water would freeze in the barrel," said Cotton. "You go to fire that weapon in a firefight at night, the firing pin might just break."

But Monday brought a warm reception for Cotton and his comrades.

"Not only did you leave a legacy called South Korea, you provided a model to those who serve today," said South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham.

Headlined by Graham, the Honor Flight Network hosted a massive reception.

"This is truly an opportunity to publicly thank you and recognize you for your service 60 years ago," said Bill Dukes, a representative of Honor Flight.

The vets were presented with certificates and medals, signs of appreciation 60 years later.      

"I often think about it," said Cotton. "I still have nightmares. It's terrible, it really is. It's not something I think about every day, but there's not a week that goes by that I don't think about or have nightmares about Korea."

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