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The Korean War began on June 25, 1950, when the armies of Communist North Korea pushed across the 38th parallel into South Korea. In late July, draft boards in West Virginia mailed draft notices to single men born in 1924 and 1925 who were not veterans of World War II. This draft call for West Virginia totaled 652 men, but inductions did not begin until late September.

Three West Virginia National Guard battalions and one Air National Guard squadron were ordered to federal service during the Korean campaign. Of the National Guard units, the 201st Armored Field Artillery Battalion and two companies of the 126th Transportation Truck Battalion were assigned to Germany. Members of the 167th Fighter Squadron of the West Virginia Air National Guard served in Europe and as combat replacements in Korea. Serving directly on the Korean front were four companies of the 1092nd Engineer Combat Battalion from Parkersburg and Salem, also National Guard. The West Virginia members of this battalion served two years in federal service during the Korean War, at one time fighting as infantrymen. They saw strenuous service in the first four of the seven major campaigns of the Korean War, from the first UN counteroffensive through the second Korean winter offensive, before returning to West Virginia in 1952. On July 27, 1953, a cease-fire agreement was signed at P’anmunjom.

The Korean War took the lives of four million people, including 37,000 Americans. More than 8,000 are still listed as missing in action. West Virginians totaling 112,000 men and women served in the Korean War. Of that number, 801 died, and 2,088 were wounded. Four West Virginians received the Medal of Honor during the Korean War, including Corneluis Charlton. Army private Kenneth Shadrick of Wyoming County was among the first U.S. servicemen killed in action in the Korean War, on July 5, 1950. For many years, he was considered the first U.S. fatality of the war. However, more recent information suggests his death likely occurred after other U.S. military personnel had been killed at the Battle of Osan on the same day. The error was due to the wide dissemination of a war correspondent’s report that Shadrick had been the first fatality.

This Article was written by Larry Legge

Last Revised on June 20, 2023


Hastings, Max. The Korean War. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1987.

Singlaub, John K. with Malcolm McConnell. Hazardous Duty: An American Soldier in the 20th Century. New York: Summit Books, 1991.

Brooks, Mary Catherine. Shadrick among first Korean War casualties. Wyoming County Report, August 14, 2018.

Cite This Article

Legge, Larry "Korean War." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 20 June 2023. Web. 20 July 2024.


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