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Les LeCompte Research

 
Les LeCompte is a Korean War veteran who lives in Edgewater, Maryland.  He is heading an effort to try to get the Bronze Star for Meritorious Service for Korean War combat veterans and Korean War veterans who were in direct support of combat operations.

Forgotten War

When we were needed,
we were there.
We got no decorations,
but who cares?
50 million South Koreans
live free, thanks to soldiers
like you and me

- written by a Korean War veteran


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Letter from Les LeCompte to the Korean War Educator
June 2010

"In 1993 I let the Korean War Veterans Association know about the Republic of Korea Korean War Service Medal.  The President of the Korean War Veterans Association and several Korean War veterans wrote letters to the Department of Defense and their Senators.  The President of the KWVA wrote to the Department of the Army Awards Branch.  All of the letters were rejected.  The standard reply was the Korean War veterans received a service medal and after "extensive research" no one could find any offer to the United States Forces of this medal from the South Korean government.

I decided to go to the National Archives and research the files to see if this medal was ever offered.  I spent several weeks going through all the documentation on the Korean War and found several places where the offer was made by the South Korean Government.  The offer was in the Far East Command Headquarters files and the State Department files.  To make this shorter, the documentation was given to the Army Awards Branch and the Judge Advocate General's office and after five years of hard work the Korean War veterans received approval to receive the Republic of Korea Korean War Service Medal they deserved.

The reason I mentioned this, while researching the documentation on the Korean War I found documentation from Far East Command Headquarters, which I have enclosed, about the Bronze Star Medal for Meritorious Service.  My effort is to try and get Korean War combat veterans and Korean War veterans in direct support of combat operations the Bronze Star for Meritorious Service during the Korean War on the eve of the 60th anniversary of the start of the Korean War.

The Korean War veterans received the least number of decorations of any veterans in a major war.  (See enclosed table.)  The enclosed documentation says the Korean War veterans are operationally qualified for the Bronze Star for Meritorious Service.  I believe if you are "Operationally Qualified" and have an honorable discharge you should be entitled to this medal.  The Korean War veterans need an Executive Order from the President of the United States or a Directive from the Secretary of the Army to make this possible.

I have many Korean War veterans of all ranks wanting me to continue my efforts to get the Bronze Star for Meritorious Service for the Korean War combat veterans and Korean War veterans in direct support of combat operations during the Korean War.

On the eve of the 60th anniversary of the start of the Korean War, without the Executive Order or Directive, the Korean War veterans will continue to be denied this honor which I believe they deserve.  General Marshall went to President Roosevelt to get this blanket award for the World War II veterans who received the Combat Infantryman's Badge or the Combat Medic Badge.  But this left out all the other deserving combat veterans of the Second World War.  Hopefully this does not happen to the combat veterans of the Korean War."


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Prologue & Introduction

Prologue

As the nation begins the start of the 21st century and the 60th anniversary of the start of the Korean War, a remembrance is in order to one of the bloodiest wars in the history of the United States of America--a war with over 166,096 casualties to American forces: 54,246 dead; 103,284 wounded; 7,190 prisoners of war, of which 40 percent did not return from captivity.   389 American servicemen known to be captured were not returned or accounted for.  Also, the Korean War, which lasted three years and one month, was fought in some of the worst weather conditions on the face of the earth.  In the winter the temperatures would drop to 30 and 40 degrees below zero and in the summer the temperatures would rise well above 100 degrees.  In addition to a very determined enemy, the United States forces faced fatal diseases, fatal accidents, and a large guerrilla force.  The total number of combined casualties on both sides during the Korean War was between 3,000,000 and 4,000,000--maybe more with untold numbers of civilians unaccounted for during the war.

The majority of the Korean War veterans were born during the Great Depression of the late 1920s and early 1930s.  They were born during some very hard times in the history of our great country.  During World War II, as children going to school they collected scrap metal, old tires and other items for the home front contribution to the war effort.  After graduating from high school, this same generation was called upon to fight a war in a distant land called Korea to stop communist aggression.  After the Korean War ended they came home to no parades or ceremonies and returned to civilian life to work their jobs and raise their families.

What better way to honor these men and women now in their seventies and eighties who fought the war in Korea than to have the United States of America make a blanket award of the Bronze Star medal for Meritorious Service to the nation on the eve of the 60th anniversary of the start of the Korean War.

Introduction

General Headquarters Far East Command issued a directive that all personnel who performed service on the ground in Korea from 25 June 1950 to 27 July 1953 are operationally qualified for the Bronze Star medal.  The enclosed information is an effort to get the United States government to honor the Korean War veterans with the award of the Bronze Star Medal for Meritorious Service and achievement on the eve of the 60th anniversary of the start of the Korean War for their sacrifices in saving 49 million South Koreans to live in freedom.  The Korean war veterans now in their late seventies and eighties should be awarded this honor on the eve of the 60th anniversary of the start of the Korean War.  The reasoning behind this request is the Korean War veteran was the least decorated veteran of any major war.  Less than 9 percent of Korean War Army veterans received any kind of decoration during the Korean War and 50 percent of these decorations were Purple Hearts.

The following documents were obtained from the National Archives concerning the award of the Bronze Star medal and Commendation medal from General Headquarters Far East Command and approved by Brigadier General K.B. Bush, adjutant general, United States Army and Major General W.A. Beiderlinden, assistant Chief of Staff, G-1, General Staff Corps. 

In my opinion an Executive Order from the President of the United States or a Directive from the Secretary of Defense or the Secretary of the Army to designated commanding officers of the Army should be made for awarding the preferred decoration to all qualified Korean War veterans who have met the operational requirements.  I believe all men serving units receiving battle participation credit should receive the Bronze Star award and all men serving in direct support units for combat operations in Korea should receive the Bronze Star medal for meritorious service between June 25, 1950 and July 27, 1953.


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Documentation

  • Executive Order 9419
  • Headquarters FEC Check Sheet - 9 February 1951
  • Headquarters FEC Outgoing Message - 10 February 1951
  • Headquarters Office of Assistant Chief of Staff - 10 February 1951
  • Executive Order 11046
  • Executive Order 11382
  • Percentage of Decorations (WWII, Korea, Vietnam)
  • Estimated Percentages (Iraq & Afghanistan)
  • Recommendation for Award

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Army Medal Count by Conflict

  • World War I = 354,268 (244,137 Purple Hearts)
  • World War II = 2,601,474 (800,735 Purple Hearts)
  • Korea = 262,508 (117,315 Purple Hearts)
  • Vietnam = 2,674,938 (220,516 Purple Hearts)
  • Grenada = 9,802 (114 Purple Hearts)
  • Panama = 1,781 (237 Purple Hearts)
  • Operation Desert Storm = 115,442 (396 Purple Hearts)
  • Somalia = 694 (188 Purple Hearts)
  • Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom = 1,200,000 (30,000 Purple Hearts and counting)

 


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About Les LeCompte

Les L. LeCompte was born in Washington, DC on March 5, 1930.  He graduated from Charlotte Hall Military Academy in 1948.  After graduation he worked in the printing business and joined the 163rd Military Police Battalion DC National Guard.  When the Korean War broke out, the 163rd MP Battalion was one of the first units in the nation called to active duty.

In September 1951, LeCompte landed at Inchon, Korea, and went to Chunchon where he was assigned to Co. B, 519th MP Battalion, 8th Army.  The objective of the 519th was to keep the main supply routes open in the central and northeast sectors, engage guerrilla forces and defend small villages and towns against attack, and find and rescue fighter pilots downed in their sector of operations.

Les LeCompte received the following awards:  Meritorious Unit Commendation with Bronze oak leaf, Korean Presidential Unit Citation with Bronze oak leaf, Korean Service Medal with three Bronze Stars, National Defense Service Medal, United Nations Medal, Republic of Korea War Service Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, and the Korean War Veterans Medal from the Republic of Korea.

After serving his tour of duty in Korea, LeCompte returned to the United States and was discharged in May 1952.  He worked 32 years as an associate engineer on Navy Navigation Satellites and the Trident Submarine Missile programs at the Applied Physics Laboratory, Johns Hopkins University, Laurel, Maryland.

He is a life member of the Korean War Veterans Association, member of the American Legion, charter member for the Battle of Normandy Museum, patron of the South China Yangtze Patrol Asiatic Fleet, and patron of the USS Bunker Hill Association.

Les and his wife Julie have two daughters, Marie and Mary, and three grandsons, Chris, John and Andy.  Les and Julie live in Edgewater, Maryland.


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Contact Information - Les LeCompte

Les LeCompte
695 Hillmeade Road
Edgewater, MD 21037
(410) 798-5154
E-mail: lescom@verizon.net

 

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